Plea for referees as pandemic continues to impact all sport

Referees are in short supply after COVID-19 stopped all training courses. Picture: KARYN HADDON

Referees are in short supply after COVID-19 stopped all training courses. Picture: KARYN HADDON - Credit: Archant

Sport is just one thing that has suffered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic but it isn’t just clubs or players who have been affected – referees too are feeling the pinch.

The Royston Crow Youth Football League have put out an urgent appeal for referees ahead of the new season which starts on September 20.

It has now been six months since the last training course was held and there are no plans currently to clear the backlog.

The league’s referee secretary Matt Francis said: “There are plenty of local opportunities available. I have a number of matches that need a referee each and every week in an area stretching from Saffron Walden through Manuden and Elsenham and all the way to Bishop’s Stortford.

“The league is very friendly and is ideal for newly-qualified referees looking for matches to help them increase their experience.

“But equally there are as many games at Under-16 and Under-18 level that need an adult referee to manage.”

If you are interested, email or call 07976 556 184.

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The Cambridgeshire County League fortunately did have officials available for their restart and Orwell started their Senior A campaign with a 2-1 win at Hundon.

They took the lead just before half-time after a back-pass was picked up close to goal.

The resulting indirect free-kick was rolled to Jamie Saunders who drilled the ball low through the crowd of players and into the net.

The lead was cancelled out within a couple of minutes of the restart but Orwell always looked dangerous going forward and with 25 minutes to go they retook the lead.

Saunders got it again, latching onto a loose bouncing ball and lashing home a ferocious half volley into the top corner from 30 yards.

Manager Jack Tidey said: “It wasn’t pretty but once Jamie scored that rocket, we showed great discipline and managed the last 20-odd minutes really well.

“We have thrown games like that away over the last couple of seasons so to come away with all three points is very pleasing.”

Royston Town, meanwhile, warmed up for their FA Cup preliminary round tie at home to Newmarket Town on Saturday with a 5-1 pre-season friendly defeat to new National League side King’s Lynn Town last weekend, before a scrappy showing and 3-3 draw at Southern League AFC Dunstable on Tuesday.