Red Number Three slides across the halfway line, carving a rift through the icy layer atop the turf. The Blue centre midfielder topples spectacularly like a felled oak, crashing shoulder-first into the ground with a thud. Multiple, resonant cries of ‘Ref!’ flood Gallin’s ears, but as he winces to escape the clamour he sees the ball lurch forward into the path of Blue Number Seven. Gallin takes a breath and surveys the pitch – mostly clear space ahead. Only one defender worth a damn and Blue Number Seven is good; he’s very good.
‘Play-on,’ barks Gallin resolutely, dwarfing and stemming the noise and authority of the players’ protests and a vociferously despondent minority of spectators. He extends both arms in front of him to signal the advantage.
A wall of Red and Blue shirts give chase, but Number Seven is away, slipping easily between the stretched and languid defence and firing the ball assertively under the lunging keeper. A very brief moment of perfect silence sweeps across the park as the ball rolls around the back of net causing it to swell. A roar of celebration by the away players quickly follows as they charge toward Number Seven and encase him in a barrage of effervescent blue shirted bodies.
‘Yes!’ Thinks Gallin, doing his very best to conceal his delight. He blows his whistle and points to the centre circle, his hand quivering with excitement.
The players jog slowly back down the pitch and move into position ready for kick-off. ‘Nicely done, ref,’ says Blue Number Seven, giving Gallin a wink.
‘What do you think of that, Number Four?’ Gallin asks cheekily, and deliberately loud enough to be heard by all of the players. ‘You having that? Sometimes we get things right, huh?’
Blue Number Four smiles but otherwise ignores Gallin’s taunts. He jumps on the spot and swings his arms in an effort to stay warm. A number of other players do the same as the winter air takes advantage of their prolonged immobility and wraps itself around their chests and limbs.
‘Ref! What’s happening?’ Yells the Red Captain, holding his arms aloft.
Gallin snaps to attention, the Red Captain’s voice belligerently ripping him away from a private replaying of his great decision in his head. ‘What? Oh, yeah, let’s play.’
Gallin restarts the game with a sharp toot on his whistle.

Please share your response on the forum or private message us if you prefer.
When responding to our stories, you might consider the following:
o Do our stories resonate or remind you of a ‘real’ scenario that you have witnessed or been involved in? If so, please share the scenario with us in as much detail as possible.
o Do our stories reflect a problem or issue in football that you think needs to be addressed? If so, please tell us why it is an issue and what you might propose to resolve the issue.
o Conversely, do our stories reflect something that is good about the game – a reason for your continued passion and involvement? If so, please tell us about this.
o Reflecting on your own experiences, is there anything missing from our story that you think is important to highlight? If so, please share with us some of your experiences and interactions with referees, giving as much detail as possible.
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Many thanks in advance for your help!
Ben Ives and Ben Clayton
A&H International