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What happens on a referee’s stag do?

Another weekend of controversy in the Premier League. Same as usual then, but not quite, this week many are blaming the lack of quality officiating on… A midweek stag do.

Indeed. Congrats Anthony Taylor, he’s bagged himself a bride. Imagine the scenes when we have a ‘Referee’s Wives’ reality show picked up, already sounds E4 ready doesn’t it.

So, the burning question, what happens on the stag do of a Premier League official? Well I’ve done some research (none) and I know (completely false) everything that goes on. Strap in team, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

03:00 – Alarm goes off and all referees wake up to the blow of a whistle and a small chorus of you’ll never walk alone belted out of their iPhone.

They’re up ridiculously early for their flight, obv, purely because they can only set the alarm for 3am by switching from their PM Premier League KO setting, it was this, 5:30 or 7:45 and we all know getting to Gatwick on a Monday morning is a mission.

3:50am – After some plain Weetabix (no milk) and a glass of room temperature tap water they book an Addison Lee, not Uber, too many horror stories and you get free Wi-Fi with Ad Lee.

5:20am – Picked up by Malcolm on the ninth hour of his twelve hour slog talking about a nightmare pick up he had in Slough with a former Arsenal player from the 70’s. “Yeah mate, but that’s what the game was like in those day’s they didn’t mind you having 11 pints after a home game, it was the culture”, sure, Malcolm.

6:50am – Arrive at Gatwick, straight to the check in desk (priority boarding, obv) to drop off the cases. Quirky bag selection from most officials emblzened with “The referee is always right, unless his wife says different” sticker on the front, classic.

7:10am – Through to the airport lounge for the carnage to commence.

7:20am – They’re all punctual and before long the entire squad is in attendance and they dust out the Pineapple juice for an early morning toast “What happens on tour… Stays on tour, but please remain in control of your body at all times and anything deemed reckless will receive a caution or immediate dismissal depending on severity at the discretion of the official.” LADS, LADS, LADS.

8:00am – The juice is flowing, the Guardian pull out decimated in the middle of the table and tunes blaring, it’s all going on. Just before the end of the ninth successive Dido record one pipes up “Lads, I know it’s a bit naughty but I’ve got us some liveners for the flight” … Without a second glance, all the refs simultaneously burst out laughing before diving into their bag (bookable offence) and slamming seven bags of Werthers Originals on the table. Utter scenes.

10:00 – A few more hours discussing how one of the nutters once switched ‘Magnolia’ for ‘Magenta’ on the shelves in Wickes and the PA announces it’s boarding time.

10:35 – A slight discussion once on board because all seven had requested seats by the emergency exits (just incase) but after pulling rank the Stag, Best Man and referee of the year get the nod and force the four other disgruntled officials into the middle row… No case for appeal.

14:50 – Steady flight, made easier by the Werthers and the fact Titanic was on demand. Nothing to note apart from a little rumble of turbulence but after the best man had a brief word with the pilot regarding his conduct, they steered in safely. They like a party these boys but no one stood up until the plane had come to a complete stop and the seat belt signed flashed off, they love a rule.

16:20 – Bags collected, rental car picked up (Nice roomy Zafira, spacious, economical, Sat-Nav included and enough boot room for their luggage and ego’s) they began tearing up the open road.

17:50 – Arrived at the hotel in perfect time. Sat-Nav said it was a 38 minute journey but sticking to the speed limit is essential and they stopped twice to allow ducks to cross the road.

18:00 – No time for niceties, bags dropped, tour tee’s slung on and bosh, they’re out for the night.

18:15 – They’d anticipated this time to the seconds so a booking at a local fish restaurant came in handy as they all sat down in their luminous yellow tour tee’s with ‘PL Playboys’ (In official Premier League lettering) strewn across the rear.

18:20 – No need for a second look at the menu, they guess what’s being served based on observation and feedback from one another. Clean Green Salad with extra anchovies and sparkling water ordered for all. Except one (Clatts like character, Brylcreem gushing from his fringe) who’s gone for a Lobster straddling a unicorn breast with a champagne cocktail, two umbrella’s and a spiral straw.

19:00 – Mains demolished, Bill split evenly seven ways (including 15% service charge and not a penny more) it’s time. Win or Lose, get on the booze.

19:15 – The first club they arrive at, bit too busy (Despite no-one being out at this time and just the staff inside), the DJ was wearing a snapback and playing house, no chance, straight out the door.

19:20 – Second option, €20 entry fee, NEXT.

19:25 – They spot it in the distance, an old haggard building with no queue. No fancy fake velvet rope, no steroid-throbbing bouncers, not a single Calvin Harris fan in sight. A traditional wooden sign, creaking in the wind, read ‘Jazz Club’… OIOI.

20:50 – They’ve made friends with Fritz the resident saxophonist who knew his way around a scrabble board too which erupted into a full blown tournament. A few dodgy words went down but ‘Play On’ the advantage was allowed before being brought back when ‘Swazz’ was put down.

21:15 – Getting late for the boys now but they’re loving it. One lad in the bar had one too many and whipped his shirt off swinging it around above his head. First booking, before repeatedly asking the barman for another drink resulted in his dismissal for dissent. Trudging out the door he appeared to flick a finger up at the group but the CCTV was no use as it was forbidden and their view was impeded by a wobbly barstool.

21:30 – Another contentious incident when the aforementioned barstool came crashing down after a collision with a new entrant to the club. Immediate action taken and a red card was brandished by the best man (he always carries his cards, once sent a courier off for delivering his parcel seven minutes before the allocated delivery time. Had to collect the parcel from the depot after an altercation but he didn’t regret a thing). Great banter.

22:05 – Five minutes into injury time and the best man calls time on the night out. Hands shook, a scrabble letter in the hand of one for three successive wins in the tournament and a wonderful evening all round.

22:30 – After a quick Horlics nightcap they stagger off to bed, smiles beaming on a job well done knowing that something special happened tonight and they were apart of it.

The morning greeted the referees with sunshine piercing through the curtains.

They may not have a hangover thanks to the Banana, paracetamol and large glass of water they left beside their bed last night but they had a story and they had to get home, they had a Premier League game to call tomorrow afternoon.

If you’ve got this far into this you’ll probably be aware of a few things. One I’m not the biggest supporter of referee’s and secondly it’s all in jest.

This is what we think a referee’s stag do should be like, right?

I mean, god forbid they actually are allowed a personal and private life off the pitch. Who do they think they are enjoying themselves on their days off between work, how dare they.

Give them a break, yes they make mistakes and I’m the biggest hypocrite in the world because I batter them for the slightest error but 90% of them are genuine, hard working professionals who get hung out to dry by their employer.

The FA need to act quickly on the escalating issues in the Premier League. Whether that is with TV reviews, more clarity on a number of rules and regulations or just further support for officials.

We need to be holding the players responsible too, however. The Ibrahimovic and Mings situation for one, both players will be retrospectively banned for their part in proceedings at Old Trafford this weekend but neither should have acted the way they did, allow the officials to officiate.

The ‘Respect Campaign’ didn’t work, booking players constantly for minor offences doesn’t work. Retrospective action doesn’t work. Until the risk outweighs the reward we will struggle to stamp out any wrongdoings or misdemeanors.

I’ve come up with not a single solution to this problem so if you’ve read this hoping for one I apologise but I’m not paid to conclude or fix the problem, the Football Association are.

Until there is a change we will consistently see refereeing errors (ironic, aye) because their job is monumentally hard but we do need to highlight how wrong some decisions are and how they cost teams because until it’s made apparent how much this is effecting our game we will not see anything done about it.

Thanks for reading,

Take it easy.

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