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Football Flashback on referees

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 26, 2021– We share this Football Flashback in honor of Belize football referees past and present; and especially in memory of recently departed Francis Henkis, who reportedly passed on April 9 and was laid to rest on Saturday, April 17, in Ladyville. R.I.P. brother Francis Henkis. We would also like to give a hearty big-up to brother Oscar Ramos, who joins Steve “Jerry Collins” Myles as a recent amputee. All three men were former 1st Division footballers turned referees after they retired from playing. Oscar later served as president of the National College of Referees, while both Henkis and Myles were active as match commissioners with the Premier League of Belize when football was suspended last year March.

The below article is taken from the sports magazine, Spurs Football In British Honduras, published in January, 1972 by Theodore “Teddy” Gonzalez, then the owner/manager of Spurs Football Club:

If I were a Referee

by Lawrence Young
(Sports Editor, The Beacon)

You know what a referee is – a guy attached to the game of football for abuses and insults. I confess that some of my very best friends have been football referees (some still are), and I could not in conscience always offer my praise for a job well done. But they are lonely people, and I have found them an unending source on which to dote my sympathies.
The referee’s worst enemies are those players that seem to dedicate themselves to stirring up bad blood on the field with their constant bickering. They are usually the dirtiest players in the game, always elbowing, kicking and spiking some opponent. If I were a referee, I would schedule those guys for three rounds (with boxing gloves) against Kid Dakers, and let them fight it out as a post-game attraction. Their team, of course, would have to pay Dakers’ professional charges. Then we would see how bad they really are. Traditionally, few of them have been able to fight.

If I were a referee, I would always favour the out-district teams, or those so good teams that somehow seem to lack the ability to win. They are always being prosecuted – or so they think. If a play is blown against those teams, it’s always because the referee is dishonest, and favouring the Belize City based contenders.

If I were a referee, I would want the right to line up the players on the field, like school children on the stage at the Bliss Institute, and let them recite a one-line poem, “This referee never blew one wrong.”

If I were a referee, I would have something like the personal foul system in basketball. Three arguments on the field and a player would be out of the game.

If I were a referee, I would insist on being given a trophy at the end of the game, and so break the monopoly that players presently enjoy.

I would really get after those players on the sidelines, waiting for a chance to get in the game. These are the fellows that hangout in mobs. They, along with their managers and coaches, hurl all kinds of insults at the referees. When you go to throw them out (usually a guy who has worn the grass thin by constantly standing on the side), the fans get on your neck.

For those fellows, I would prescribe a kind of torture. I would make them roll a football with their noses from goal to goal and back, on days when games are rained out.

If I were a referee, I would insist that the Football Association provided a public address system at every game. I would want every argument aired out to the fans. If there is a big squawk, I would interrupt the game, call for the P.A. system, and make every captain and ball player quote the rule he is disputing. Most times they don’t know what they are arguing about.

I would hold quiz programmes over Radio Belize’s “World of Sports” each Sunday for some of those smart guys that are always making me the butt of their feeble jokes. “Half of the ball rolls out the touch line and is picked up by the linesman; wing collects the other half before it goes out, passes it to the center forward, who scores. What is the ruling?”

If I were a referee, I would insist on being kissed on the noggin by each player before the game begins, and have the full ball park singing an anthem for me like “I wish I had a mommy like you.” My lonely days on the field would be over.

If I were a referee, I would want an air-conditioned rest room for us at half-time. Each team would have to dress their captain in an apron, and let him bring me an orange and a glass of milk during the interval. Then maybe those captains would learn to have respect, and stop saying dirty things behind the referee’s back.

I would have same recourse against those critical fans who think they know all about a play they have watched far from the scene of action. I would insist that their criticisms be a crime against the nation, and that any violation carry a fine of twenty-five dollars. The money would be put into a fund, to be used to pay referees at the end of the competition.

If I were a referee, in the final analysis, I would want to do a good job for the players and fans alike. If necessary, I would have my eyes examined at least once a year. I would run a mile every day during competition, so that I would be fit enough to withstand the rigours on the field. I would live with a rule book in my pocket, and make absolutely sure that I know those rules as good as any manager, coach or captain.

By local standards, I would like to have the judgement of Terrence “Tut” Usher, the agility of Ronnie Gill, the indestructibility of Maxwell Bruce, and the respect given to those guys from the Army Camp.

But if I were all those things, I would probably not be a referee.

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