In a scenario which would have given one or two existing and former St Helens WFC players absolute nightmares; 16 club members played out an entertaining and competitive match at Ruskin on Monday.
Of course there weren’t REALLY 5 referees. Well, not all at the same time anyway. But our resident Wednesday ref Steve Pitt kindly gave up his Monday morning to give any willing volunteers the opportunity to learn at the master’s knee. Four players bravely stuck their hands up and took it in turn to referee parts of the match under Steve’s eagle eye. His individual assessments of their performance is given at the end of this blog in the order that they performed. Steve is quoted verbatim and his comments have not been amended in any way by your blogger!
Now then, to the match report. Tom and Andy were asked by coach John D to pick the sides, and we started as follows :-
Reds: Andy, Geoff, Alex, Jimmy, Phil, Les, One More John, Foxy,
Blues:- Tom, Steve, Martin, Tony, Lord Rainford, Bryan, Speedo Mick, Jeff Now, those of you who have quickly skimmed to the bottom of this blog will have noticed that all 4 novice refs came from the Blue team. Whether that had any influence on the final outcome I cannot say; but after a tight even game Blues were crowned eventual winners by the narrowest of margins 5-4. Probably more to the point in terms of influencing the score was the transfer of Les from Reds to Blues to help even the teams up as Blues were constantly a man down what with all this reffing business.
But before our tyro refs got going Steve had to give an early goal to the Blues as Foxy crashed a shot into the corner past the despairing dive of bemused net-minder Tom Parr. Shaken by this, Tom quickly took up his more usual position bossing the midfield whilst Lord R and Jeff in turn kept goal; and his influence meant Blues soon overcame that early setback with 2 goals from Martin and – after his transfer – one from Les. Steve F was playing in his classic centre forward role, having a battle royal with Andy and Geoff
Phil and John One More stretched Lord Rainford and Martin at the back and there was a prolonged period of good football played by both sides.
After half time and a change in newbie refs Blues started with Bryan in goal but the change round seemed to mostly bamboozle them with Reds, pressing hard, hardly letting them out of their own half. The inevitable happened and Phil poached two goals to even the score up at 3-3. It was now all to play for and some more excellent passing and clever forward player (honourable mentions for Speedo, Jimmy, Tony and Foxy here) finally led to Blues going 4-3 up as that rare event – a wayward clearance by Geoff – led to the (very) unusual sight of Lord R hitting the ball with the outside of his right foot into the corner of the net. But, once again Blues couldn’t hold onto this lead and – once again – it was that man Phil making it 4 apiece and getting his name into the hall of fame with a well taken hat trick.
Was their time for a winner? There was! With Steve P counting down the minutes, after a bit of untidy play near the Reds goal Les latched on to a half chance and finished with a shot through two or three players with poor Alex probably unsighted in the Reds goal. Blues’ game management now took over with Martin cannily finding the corner flag on a couple of occasions into the last knockings before the final whistle went on another very enjoyable Monday morning’s football. Well played all, particularly for bearing with the - at times – idiosyncratic decisions of the novice refs, and thanks again to Steve Pitt. Now for those referee assessments :-
BRYAN - Has previous experience. Started well and gained more confidence as the minutes ticked by.
JOHN - Impressive. Called the decisions loud and clear. Should go for a referee’s badge
JEFF - Mobile. Kept up with the action
TONY - Quiet probably The quietest referee I've ever met.