Jim de Rennes: Goalkeepers and Referees

An old friend of Reading RA, Jim de Rennes was in fact an associate member of our society for many years as well as being a full and active member of his ‘home’ society, Kingston-upon-Thames.

Jim has been refereeing for over 25 years and has officiated over 2000 games including matches at both the old and new Wembley Stadiums. Jim has been an FA Licensed Tutor for many years as well as acting as an instructor on national courses for referee instructors.

Jim has always provided presentations that look at refereeing from a different viewpoint; some members may recall his Zero Tolerance or Common Sense, or his F-ing workshop.  Jim was a goalkeeper before injury forced him to give up playing and this presentation focused on Goalkeepers and Referees.

In opening his discussion, Jim first asked how many members present had been goalkeepers when they played the game themselves. The answer was almost 45%, which is in line with other societies where Jim had made this presentation.

But why is this proportion so high, when by rights they should form less than 10% of eleven players in a team? Jim questioned whether there is some sort of connection between goalkeeping and refereeing; inviting members to suggest attributes they thought both might share.

Each suggestion was discussed in turn and included opinions that both goalkeepers and referees are individualists, more independent; they are game watchers, only intervening when required and therefore perhaps more thinking. Perhaps they are both more responsible than the average player and must be good communicators to do their job effectively. Of course both needed courage, one to be prepared to dive at a player’s feet and the other prepared to suffer the denigration that is not uncommon. Or are they both just mad?

Focusing on the Laws of the Game Jim pointed to over twenty separate and particular references to the goalkeeper. The meeting was split into smaller groups and asked to consider a set of questions on the laws as they affect goalkeepers, or factors that we take into consideration when goalkeepers may be involved.

Some questions were simple such as, ‘What do you do if the goalkeeper holds the ball for ten seconds?’ Others covered incidents such as corner kicks; where one would be positioned as a referee with club assistants created a particularly lively discussion.

Some argued the most important decision you are likely to make is; ‘did the ball cross the line?’ – Particularly between the posts. This would suggest you need to be positioned on or near the goal line. On the other hand, the greatest likelihood of what will happen is that there will be a breakaway up field, which means you may struggle to get close to play from a position near the goal line.

Whilst the discussion left referees pondering two distinct options; position for either the most important or the most likely event, there are a number of other variables to consider when taking up a position for a corner and have been left for further discussion another day. The chief consideration to take away is; maintain an open view of players in and around the area with a clear view of the goalkeeper.

There were many other talking points throughout the evening and Jim certainly evoked total audience participation. Talking and thinking about refereeing is certainly what our meetings should be about and our great thanks to Jim for making it happen once again.

Books re: Goalkeepers

Supplementary to his presentation Jim had a list of books that are worth consideration by anyone interested in what makes goalkeepers different. One book in particular to add to Jim’s list is Trautmann’s Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup legend. If you would like a copy of Jim’s list please let us know and it can be provided.


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