22 Handshakes – Ryan Hampson

Every week we hear referees using the phrase “I got 22 handshakes in my game” upon entering the refs’ changing rooms or in core meetings and no doubt every single one of us as referees have said it, but have we ever sat down and thought what is the meaning of 22 handshakes?

I have and hopefully after reading this blog today so will you.

On the other side of the scale why don’t we get 22 handshakes after games? Hopefully my research with Clubs, Managers and even players will give a little insight into that.

Over the last 2 weeks I have been and watched four local football games as part of my research in four different leagues. I took a notepad and pen and scribbled down how many of the 22 players on the pitch shook the referees’ hand, below are my figures, also including the final score in, why you ask? Well many people within football, i.e. Managers, Players and Referees state “if a team loses they are less likely to shake a referees hand” so I went and observed and here was my outcome to that statement.

Home team 5-1 Away team
(Handshakes) Home team 11 Away team 2

Home team 3-3 Away team
(Handshakes) Home team 7 Away team 8

Home team 0-4 away team
(Handshakes) Home team 1 Away team 11

Home team 2-1 Away team
(Handshakes) Home team 10 Away team 11

From these figures you can see that the above statement would be correct but that wasn’t concrete enough for me so I went and spoke to individuals who gave me their answers to my question of

“If your team loses are you less likely to shake the referees hand?”

Jon Hudson Manager of Poynton FC Reserves

“Depends if they have influenced the result. I’ve had times when I’ve lost and I’ve not been happy with the referee, but I always try and remain professional. I’ve always had good relationships with referees like yourself and others- I think it helps.”

Darren Fitzgerald Manager of RV Athletic FC

“Depends if they have influenced the game. If they haven’t then I would shake win or lose”

Stephen “Diddy” Jones Player of Birch Town Villa FC

“Not for me, Ryan you have refereed me when my team have been panned have I ever not came over to you at the end not shook your hand?” (Not that I can recall Stephen!)

Dean Naulty Player of Birch Town Villa FC

“Yes its less likely 100% but I only wouldn’t shake their hand if they seemed dodgy or biased somehow which some refs do come across sometimes”

Paul Ray Manager of Fielden Park FC

“No not at all”

The response was a little mixed which reiterates another statement that is commonly used. “Football is a game of opinions” it certainly is!

So at this point I was still unconvinced on what caused referees not to have their hand shaken at the end of the game, so I dug a little deeper and hopefully the conversations I had will give everyone some real knowledge/insight on how managers and players feel, and what causes them not to shake a referee’s hand.

I asked two questions;
1) What would persuade you to shake my hand at the end of a game?

2) What would stop you shaking my hand after the game?

Jon Hudson Manager of Poynton FC Reserves

“I will always shake the referee’s hand at the end of the game, it was how I was bought up. As a player I could be a pain in the backside but as a manager I try and be the example. However, sometimes I have had bad referees who I have felt have had a bad game and I will confront them with a question at the end of a game but I will always try and end the game in the right way with a handshake. I have noticed also, younger managers coming in don’t have the same level of respect as the older generation did”.

Dean Naulty Player of Birch Town Villa FC

“To be honest I wouldn’t shake your hand after the game if you were making constant poor decisions and seeming biased in any way, but other than that I always shake hands with the referee he’s doing us a favour by refereeing it, if it weren’t for referees there wouldn’t be any games taking place so it’s only right I should shake his/her hand after the game”.

Paul Ray Manager of Fielden Park FC

“Me personally I always shake a referees hand after the match whether I think they have a great game or a nightmare, out of respect for the job they do, because without refs we wouldn’t have a game.”

Stephen “Diddy” Jones Player of Birch Town Villa FC

“I shake the referees hand after every game, they give their time so we can play our game. Even if a ref has been particularly bad in a game, I still shake their hand and have a bit of banter. It’s a thankless job too often, only a few times have I witnessed both teams 100% happy with the referee at end of game regardless of the result, your either a team’s best mate or worst enemy, so regardless of the result I’ll thank them tell them they done well regardless of what has happened in game. Also if there’s a particular tough call to make that I recall from the game I tell them took guts to make that call and well played, a lot of players don’t understand that the ref plays the game as well, they keep the order and the game flowing, yes they don’t always get it right but they do what they are trained to do. So hats off to them I certainly don’t have the temperament to deal with the abuse some have to that’s for sure!”

Darren Fitzgerald Manager of RV Athletic FC

“I would always shake a referees hand if they have had a decent game or tried their best. However what really irritates me about referees is, when they treat the game as a professional game and issue yellow cards for incident that shouldn’t really result in a yellow card, maybe in the premier league they do but not at Sunday league level as this costs someone money to play a game of football.”

After hearing the above peoples views I was shocked that all the replies had a sense of similarity to them, I think the general consensus is the participants will shake your hand mainly and if they don’t its because they feel you have had a shocker, which Is an opinion again, we as referees are never going to get everything right that is a certainty, but another certainty is we will always try our best, refereeing is a difficult, unrewarding job at the best of times but shaking the referees hand at the end of their game this weekend and going into the future would help them much more. Rather than ignoring us at the end of your game come up to us and speak to us. However understand, realise and note we are all humans and we are all going to make mistakes.

As for “22 handshakes” I am still unclear on what the meaning of 22 handshakes is, the only answer I have is, you got every single decision correct and both teams left very happy…

A massive thank you to all the people who took time out for my research and answering my questions.

Look out for a future blog that I do and share it exclusively on the Ref Support UK website!

Ryan Hampson

Posted in Blog.