My first game of the year is generally the most challenging games I get assigned. This was an Adult Amateur competitive match. This isn't rec. Many of these players have either played in college or some type of semi-pro in their past. It's physical, fast and it always has the chance of getting heated.
Personally, I felt great. I've been given access to a new fitness program called Scorch Fitness. I was skeptical at first, but I sold. The variation of the workouts keeps it fresh and I've haven't felt this all-around fit in probably 10 years.
I arrive to the fields about 45 minutes early to do a field check and a pre-match warm-up. I am very thorough with my warm-up and I've added some elements from the Scorch fitness routine including A-Skips which really get my heart pumping.
Pre-game chat with my AR's was easy. Experienced crew that I have worked with many times before. We focused on communication and Offside given how many recent controversial offside decisions there have been lately in the Premier league. And because this is Adults, we went over Mass Confrontation procedures. I've been there and it's always better to be prepared than not.
This match had a super easy 1st half. The home team went up 2-0 within the first 20 minutes. I thought it was going to be a blowout. A few fouls here and there, but nothing controversial.
And in an instant, it all changed. Soon after we kicked off in 2nd half, there was a foul that got all of the negative emotions going. I saw it as a common foul, but the player who it happened to thought it should've been a card. He immediately popped up and started yelling at me. I calmly replied ask him to chill and calm down. His fellow players pulled him away pretty quickly.
It probably should've been a yellow for dissent in retrospect. That being said, had I pulled a yellow there, it could've made the situation even hotter.I wish I had gone to talk to my AR to check and see if the original challenge was card worthy. My mistake. Not 30 seconds later the player who had made the trip previously picked up a yellow for a reckless challenge and was subbed off soon after.
The energy completely changed. 10 minutes later, the score was tied up 2-2 and it seemed every challenge had a bit more venom to it. I had to blow my whistle much more often and cards were coming out every 5 minutes to keep the game in check.
The only other controversial call was in the penalty area. Attacker gets off a clean shot at goal and after the shot, he got fouled. There is no other way to say it. A body check. The question for me at that point, was the ball still in play? I don't know. You can't call a PK if the ball isn't in play. I wish I had VAR to review this one. I still think about it and probably will for a while.
Personally, I was really focused on my diagonal and not getting caught in the middle of the pitch. I covered 6.1 Miles in this game tracked with the REFSIX Pro App. I felt like I could run all day. It makes a huge difference being fit. I never had to question whether or not I could make the run or not be in position to make the right call.
The match finished 2-2 and both teams had plenty of opportunities to win the game. Needless to say, what better person to blame than the ref! I had a few people give a few complaints as we shook hands, but I expect that. Being a referee means that you will need to make some hard calls that people may not agree with. In the end, you just have to do your best and continue to learn from every experience.
I definitely came away from this match with some lessons learned, scenarios I would react to differently and another valuable match experience under my belt.