Hampshire FA would like to congratulate John Brett for refereeing 1000 games at a grassroots level!
Check out what John has to say below –
‘I used to play football, no high standard or anything special but I have always loved the game so I thought why not try being the man in the middle for a change. I passed my referees exam and qualified during the mid 1980s whilst serving in the Royal Navy.
My my very first game I recorded was actually a RAF league cup game on Wednesday 9th September 1987, RAF Stanbridge (which is in Bedfordshire) v RAF Halton and the game passed me by with no incidents and 5-1 score line for the home team.
My 1000th game was on 11 January 2020 at Front Lawn Community Hub, Leigh Park, Havant which was a Hampshire FA U15 County Cup Semi-Final between Havant & Waterlooville v Oakwood Southampton and a 2-3 win for Oakwood. A very enjoyable milestone game for me.
So, what happened in between?
I got slower over the years, greyer over the years and a lot wiser over the years when it comes to refereeing but you have to clock up the games to gain the experience.
All referees have a bad game now and again but you learn from that experience and move on because the good games far exceed the odd bad game you may have.
No better feeling than when you walk off after 90 minutes, end to end game, 22 players still on the pitch, no cards issued and the teams hardly knew you were there. At the end of the day it is about respect for all involved in the game.
So, what did I learn?
Well, from when you qualify as a referee you have to accept straight away that your eyesight is impaired from day one. Glasses, contact lenses and the whole hearted encouragement from your friendly supporter or manager who will be on your case the whole game constantly asking ‘did you not see that referee?’.
You need to become a fully paid up member of the actors union (as a comedian of course) because every crowd will always remind you ‘you are having a "larf" ref’.
Once you embrace the previous light hearted look at refereeing as part and parcel of the game you can then start to realise that being the man in the middle is actually the easier part of the game, a great sport and very rewarding.
There would be no game at grass roots level if it was not for a well-structured County FA, well-structured and managed leagues to referee in and, on that note, it would be remiss of me not to mention the Mid-Solent Youth League where I have refereed for the last 14 seasons and enjoyed every one of those seasons. You have looked after me well! So, Mid-Solent League Management Committee and team of volunteers, take a bow for a well-run league.
I would also like to mention the well run and organised teams that make up the league, the fortunate ones that have an army of volunteers to help on match day with, secretarial and administration work, finances, transport, pitch preparation, putting the nets up, taking them down, collecting the subs, washing the kit, saying nice things about the referee etc. Whilst other teams seem to get by with a one or a two-person band running the show. It should also not go unnoticed the support I have received from my wife Jan and family.
All I have had to do is turn up and referee but without them, there would be no game to referee so a big thank you to you all for helping me along the way to the 1000th game. Respect to you all.
So, have I enjoyed it?
Of course, I have. So many friends made over the years who share the love of the game. Have I contributed to the game? I like to think so. If only in small way by turning up in all weathers, season after season so that the game has that important element of a referee. Would I do it all again? Absolutely. Will I do another season? That's a question I will ask myself at the end of this season or age and legs will be telling me the answer.
Keep on whistling......’