Referee Frank Cockle is a man of character who wouldn't abandon a game without cause
I FOUND a recent football-related news story which featured on the front of The Post really interesting. It reported how a referee abandoned a match between two Bristol amateur football clubs, when violence from both teams erupted on the pitch.
The match was between two Bristol and Avon League teams: The Park Knowle Reserves against Amana Somali Youth Forum.
The referee, Frank Cockle, said that he had no choice other than to take this action, describing it as the worst scenes he had witnessed on a football pitch, after nearly 40 years as a player, manager, and now referee. He was quoted as saying that both teams should be expelled from all football competitions. I believe that he does have a very strong case for getting this notion approved because this sort of behaviour needs to be stamped out immediately.
Back in my youth, I actually played football with and against Frank on several occasions. He was one of the most competitive players I have ever come across. I can remember how he would argue for ten minutes if a throw-in decision went against him.
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I have to say though that Frank is very passionate about the game, and I would imagine, as a referee, he would like to see really tough competitive games.
So for him to abandon a game it certainly would have had to be uncontrollable, because without doubt Frank is a really strong character with a backbone.
I have had the experience of playing in the Bristol and Avon League withLong Ashton Reserves, back in my early 40s.
It was tough going most weeks, one of the main reasons was the fact that we didn't very often get a referee assigned to take charge of our games. More often than not, it was left to the home team to provide one. On several occasions we had the host team's substitute player taking charge, and very rarely did they even have a whistle. There is no doubt that a lot of talented footballers compete in the Bristol and Avon League, what a lot of them obviously lack is discipline. Not all of them by any means, but quite a few of the players I came up against would use threatening behaviour to try and wind you up.
I noticed several of my team-mates back then, retreating into their shells when this occurred.
I can recall being kicked, punched, and spat at during my time at Long Ashton, and that was just walking to the pitch. I can honestly say that the usual threatening comments aimed at me had no effect as I would give as good as I got. My usual response was to get the ball, waltz past them and then stick it in the net.
In my opinion, nothing beats a bald 44-year-old man jogging back to the halfway line, giggling, and then telling a young 20-something edgy opponent to just look and learn. I now look back and am not a bit surprised that they all wanted to hurt me.
To finish on a serious note, we do all need to respect referees more, because we need them for us all to enjoy a decent game of football.