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'We're disappointed by mistakes too': Irish League referee Shane Andrews on dealing with errors


Middle man: Shane Andrews would like to see more respect from players and managers to referees

Middle man: Shane Andrews would like to see more respect from players and managers to referees

�INPHO/Declan Roghan

Middle man: Shane Andrews would like to see more respect from players and managers to referees

Anyone who watched the Larne v Coleraine Irish Cup quarter-final clash at Inver Park on their television might have spotted a fresh-faced man keeping the peace in the middle.

Comber man Shane Andrews has heard all the banter before, from 'you should be at school' to 'go home and do your homework.'

But the senior Irish League official is a 30-year-old married man with three children and he's now into his ninth season as a referee.

The self-employed bricklayer, who works with his father Arnold, is actually five years older than the Premiership's youngest ref, Jamie Robinson.

Despite his youthful looks, Shane is closing in on 10 years as a referee and family circumstances placed him on this particular career path.

"I'm only 30 but I get a lot of jokes about my age," said Shane, who played for Comber Rec and Killyleagh reserve teams in his younger years.

"As a referee, you don't often get the chance to explain your circumstances or background.

"People don't really care about that but, although I may look young, I'm 30 and married with three kids.

"I'm certainly not a teenager and this is my ninth season as a referee.

"I came through at the same time as our youngest referee, Jamie Robinson.

"I must have been 21 when I started refereeing. The big change that happened in my life was when my now wife Gemma and I had our daughter Katie-Rose, and she's coming nine in May.

"I'm self-employed and I had responsibilities as a father and someone who was owning a house.

"I would have loved to simply play football but I couldn't be working on a building site with a broken leg.

"I also suffered a knee ligament injury which required an operation, and that was a warning sign.

"Myself and my dad are partners and build houses for developers. I can't get hurt and risk that.

"Dad had refereed for a while and he had wanted me to try the refereeing even earlier."

Shane gained experience in the Down Area Winter Football League, Championship One and Two, but the most educational time for him was at Amateur League level.

"I was on my own and you need to stand up for yourself," he added. "It made the transition to the Championship and Premiership easier. The difference with the Premiership is the profile and media scrutiny.

"You are going to get criticism. I think you need to have a thick skin but you also need to stand up for yourself as you will make right decisions too. It's just unfortunate you will be remembered for any bad decisions you make."

Referees are often in the firing line from supporters, players and managers, and Shane feels you do need to be a strong character to survive in that environment.

"People use the term abuse and I would probably use the word disrespect. I think it is getting worse," he adds.

"The problem we have this year is that the managers are under more pressure. More money has come into the league and it's fiercely competitive, particularly after the loss of a European place.

"The truth is no-one needs to tell me I've had a bad game. All I can ever do is try my best and if we have a bad game our weekend is ruined.

"I'd like more managers to understand how disappointed we are too. I set myself high standards and if I make a mistake, it will be highlighted and I'll analyse it. I think you need a strong mentality to be a referee."

And Shane's youthful appearance can he a hindrance, rather than help.

He adds: "I think with looking so young I feel like I have to try harder. I think respect is a two way street and I would like the players to speak to me in the same way I would speak to them.

"There has to be communication and respect, there should be no them and us. I would never apologise for making a mistake but, hand on heart, I would analyse what happened. I don't believe in apologising for mistakes and I don't think managers need that either. What's important is that I learn from it and become better at my job."

While the spotlight on referees can be fierce, Shane is still passionate about becoming a better referee and officiating on bigger stages.

"It can be a tough environment but I would encourage young people to consider refereeing," he added. "This year I did the Scottish Challenge Cup quarter-final at Ibrox between Rangers Under-23s against Wrexham in front of more than 10,000 fans and the atmosphere was brilliant.

"I was also away for six months doing the Uefa CORE (Centre of Referee Excellence) in Switzerland. You end up training six nights a week to test your commitment level. I'm not a Fifa official, but becoming an international referee is a big target, along with refereeing an Irish Cup final, the biggest game in our season.

"Through refereeing I have made plenty of friends, including Andrew Davey, who was best man at my wedding.

"With the players becoming fitter, we must keep up with them and be more professional as well."

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