Guest speaker Apr 2012: Iain Williamson – “foul recognition”

Our guest speaker for April was to have been Adam Watts, who is a specialist assistant referee with the select group on the Premier League but unfortunately he was unable to be with us. Adam is a highly rated speaker so we hope to welcome him some time in the future. We were fortunate that our own Football League referee, Iain Williamson was able to step in to make it an evening worth remembering.

Iain had had some recent publicity with the after match brawl when he refereed the Bradford City v Crawley Town League 2 match. Iain therefore started with the video and an explanation of that day. The match he said had gone well without any trouble but as the players were leaving the field one player objected to something said to him by an opponent. Within seconds players on each side were throwing punches at one another. The key learning point for him, said Iain, was the importance of pre-match instructions and making sure the assistant referees are aware of what is required of them in such circumstances. Instead of getting involved, they all stood at different viewpoints around the mass brawl, making notes of the proceedings. Rather than risk further confrontation, when things had calmed down he led his team back to the changing room. He then called three Bradford players into his changing room and showed them red cards and then did the same to two Crawley players. This meant that he had created a record for players shown a red card in a Football League match, not a record he said, that he was particularly proud to hold. He didn’t get to bed until 2.30am after e-mailing in his reports. He also sent the FA a DVD of the game which led to two other players being charged with disciplinary action.

For the rest of the evening, Iain showed a special DVD obtained from the PGMO which was made for them by Prozone, about tackling offences, entitled Foul Recognition. It is intended not just for referees but also to be viewed by managers of clubs, so that they could understand why some tackles are only punished by a free kick, whilst others also involve a yellow or a red card. The DVD fell into six segments and the first was the four practical elements that we as referees adopt consequent of players’ actions. SEE the offence, RECOGNISE the offence, THINK about our action, Take ACTION. This meant being in the right position with the appropriate viewing angle. To do this we need to anticipate play and make the appropriate use of our fitness.


The three types of tackles

The DVD then looked at the three types of tackle, careless, reckless and using excessive force and their descriptions. Next it showed examples of these three types taken mainly from Premier League game with explanations of why they fell into each category. Iain led the discussions of the meeting of the tackles shown. Next the DVD looked at Tactical fouls, this is where the challenge itself is not committed with the severity, intensity or speed that would make it other than a careless tackle but it breaks up an attack, so leads to a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

The DVD finished with two recent challenges, one from a Manchester City v Liverpool match and the other between the two Manchester clubs. Both tackles had similar aspects. In each case the defender lunged with feet off the ground, but played the ball without touching the opponent. However in both cases the opponents had to take evasive action to prevent being caught by the players tackle. Ian explained that Football League referees are only able to get together three times a year rather then the fortnightly meetings held for Premier League referees who of course are full time. These tackles created much discussion with the group split 50/50 about the correct decision. They could be the same videos shown by Mike Riley to members of the PFA and Managers Association who took an hour to come to a conclusion. The purpose of the DVD was to encourage everyone to understand the decision making, to have clear and consistent criteria for the correct recognition and punishment. Also to show that referees should enable the physicality of the game to continue whilst allowing skilful players to flourish. There was also the message clearly aimed at players and managers.  ‘If a player commits a tackle at speed, with intensity and with both feet off the ground, they are at risk of the challenge being punished with a red card’.

Many members wondered why DVDs of this sort weren’t available to referees societies as it contained so much valuable information. We have managed to obtain a copy of the DVD and it is available for members to borrow for their personal viewing. Contact Dick Sawdon Smith.

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