Referees’ society aims to bring through the next generation

Jeremy Simpson.
Jeremy Simpson.

It’s the most thankless of footballing tasks.

What exactly drives right-minded people to pick up the whistle and become the man in the middle?

The abuse and the controversy isn’t for most but the Lancaster and Morecambe Referees’ Society is confident they can play a big part in bringing through the next generation this season.

“We strive to make ourselves one of the best refereeing societies in the country,” says chairman Alistair Stewart.

“Refereeing is the most challenging but rewarding of roles in football and to be a part of it is fantastic.

“To ensure that our name stays strong, we are on the look out for the next generation to take up the whistle and join our society.

“We have officials who referee at all levels of the game so there’s plenty of experience within our ranks.”

Some of the society’s key figures are at the very top of the game.

Training officer David Allison is a former top-flight official who is currently the English Football League’s Referee Manager, travelling up and down the country every Saturday to keep an eye on officials and aid their development.

The society also has three current league officials in their ranks, including Jeremy Simpson, who has this season been added to the Select Group 2, meaning he will take charge of games in the Championship and Leagues 1 and 2.

With almost 30 registered referees the society isn’t all about the top level however with referees operating from local parks to the greatest of arenas in the world.

“Although the L&MRS is not the largest of societies in terms of numbers – few can match the development and training sessions that the society promotes,” says Steve Stewart, referee development manager at the Lancashire FA, who will be holding courses in the district this season.

“The depth and range of topics – as well as the highly supportive culture within the society make it an absolute must for young referees just starting their careers as well as well-established match officials continuing theirs.

“Top-drawer guest speakers and interactive training sessions are a regular feature of society nights.

“The hard-working committee are a fantastic blend of experience and expertise – and are a true reflection of all that is good in referees.”

Founded in 1921, the group was known as the Lancaster and District Referees’ Society until the late 1950s before becoming the Lancaster and Morecambe Referees’ Society to reflect the broader geographical network of local referees in North Lancashire.

The group is now one of only three in the North West to meet every week for training sessions with a variety of speakers regular guests.

Anyone interested should contact Alistair on alistair_stewart_4@msn.com.