Shaun Jepson

This real life Ref Story is from Shaun Jepson.


Shaun is a Level 7 ref and  started refereeing at the beginning of 2022. He also played, mostly at Step 6 but never fancied coaching. He confessed that as a player he was always giving the ref a hard time, so when he stopped playing, he felt it was only fair to put his whistle where his mouth is.

I’ve loved my refereeing experience in the eight months I’ve been doing it but there’s something from a game I did recently that stuck in my mind and made me wonder if respect for match officials will ever be achieved across the amateur game

It was a game involving teenage kids and the losing team were beaten by a significant goal margin. At the end of the game, a ‘coach’ from the beaten team was talking to his players within earshot of where I was stood. Reader: he was citing ‘terrible refereeing decisions.

Me being me, I was unable to keep my trap shut  so I very politely challenged him and asked if he thought his team had lost because there were a couple of decisions that he felt should have been given for his team, or because of the amount of goals they had failed to prevent.

Of course no proper answer was forthcoming. Just something about him taking pictures of some of the marks on his players’ legs and sending them them to the FA. Not entirely sure what that would demonstrate, but there we go.

I came away thinking it was tragic that people who hold influence over kids are perpetuating a bonkers theory that the team, as a collective, can’t possibly be at fault for losing a game of football by a double-digit margin. No way. It must be the fault of the bogeyman referee.

Failed driving test? We didn’t drive on the right roads. Unsuccessful job interview? They didn’t ask the right questions. What message does that attitude send to youngsters? Because it definitely doesn’t say that sometimes your best just isn’t good enough.

More broadly, there is an issue with the Club Jacket Brigade in youth football. Clubs are so bereft of volunteers, in order to keep teams running you end up with people who may be well-intentioned but at the same time inexperienced and unqualified to coach.

A club jacket with your initials on does is not a coaching qualification. And it certainly substitute expertise in the laws of the game. In any event, you don’t need either to demonstrate the importance of respect when losing/winning and looking at yourself first in defeat.

So if you are a coach/volunteer, particularly in youth football, do better than this guy. Otherwise over time there will be fewer people like me that will be willing to accept your BS, which means the only people that will suffer will be the kids you’re trying to help.