A leading Antrim official seriously contemplated calling a referees strike this year, such was the abuse to which local officials were subjected.
In his report to the upcoming Antrim convention, the chairman of the local referees committee Gerry McClory reveals that he came close to aping the current Scottish soccer referees strike.
“This year, for the first time in over 40 years of refereeing, I considered calling a referee's strike,” McClory revealed.
“The reason was the daily phone calls from referees wanting to stop refereeing because of the amount of physical and verbal abuse hurled at them. Thankfully, though, wise heads prevailed,” he said.
“Officials try to influence a referee to change or water down his report, it has happened on at least four occasions this year,” he said.
McClory said verbal attacks on referees in Antrim had increased in the last year and that he was aware of four referees who were hanging up their whistles as a result.
I would like to say refereeing recruitment has increased, that abuse has stopped and the clubs in Antrim have woken up and accepted their responsibilities. Unfortunately, I cannot," he said.“Club officials have berated me about the standard of refereeing.
“When asked to supply names of people to be trained, they just ignore the request. Verbal assault, lack of referees, little or no recruitment and referees being treated with contempt does nothing to enhance the reputation of our association, yet it seems to be acceptable.
“You are treating people who give up their time to ensure your club gets a game with a total lack of respect,” he charged.
McClory revealed that the numbers taking up the whistle in Antrim have dwindled so much that there are now only 74 referees to look after 800 club games, and that is before additional divisional, schools and colleges matches.