A former referee and stalwart of the Huddersfield & District League wants to encourage former players and more young people to take up refereeing.
Ken Farrington, 72, who has given half a century of service to local football, is warning that there’s a worrying shortage of qualified referees.
Former league secretary Mr Farrington, a life member of both the league and Huddersfield Football Association, says that if the situation isn’t turned around club officials will end up refereeing matches, and that must be avoided.
Mr Farrington is passionate about the game but is saddened to see the decline of officials in the area.
He said: “Both the local leagues and the associations have done all they can to improve the situation but the truth of the matter is that we are running out of qualified officials.
“The league is 50% down on referees to what it was a decade ago. We have tried to offer more money per game to referees putting it up from £30 to £35.
“We need to encourage more players at the end of their career to take up officiating. That’s the problem and they are the solution.
“However, it is an uphill struggle. Less young people are taking up the role and the big problem is that there are so many other things now that they can do with their time.
“There is the opportunity for young people to rise up the ladder and go to the very top of the game. We are in real danger of club officials refereeing matches more and more and that isn’t good for the game at local level.”
Having taken his refereeing course in 1976 alongside Huddersfield-based former Football League referee Richard Poulain, Mr Farrington officiated at every level of local football up until he retired in 2004. He then became Huddersfield League secretary until 2017.
Mr Farrington added: “I love the sport and always have done. I felt at home refereeing and, yes I got abused, but I loved doing the job. They called me a ref-a-holic because I used to referee four games over a weekend! That’s how much I enjoyed it.
“I officiated junior games, men’s games, women’s games and finals and cup matches across the whole of Huddersfield. The league itself is of a good standard and is an historic league that should be proud of itself.
“The only thing that now needs sorting is the referee situation. At the moment to become a ref we would need to send you on a course in Woodlesford in Leeds, but if we get six people to go and do the course we can then set courses up in Huddersfield and that’s where we want to get to.
“If you are an ex-player or even a current supporter of a team and want to get involved with refereeing then contact us at the league or go onto the West Riding FA website to find out more.” CLICK HERE to be taken to the West Riding website – Get into Refeering page.