Park Life: Shortage of grassroots referees needs to be given the red card

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ONE look at this week’s results from the West Yorkshire League makes strange reading.

Amidst a calm and peaceful autumn weather-wise thus far, four games were postponed in the Premier. My Saturday was spent en route to Wolverhampton and back for Leeds United’s 1-0 win at Molineux and I half wondered if I’d missed a dramatic downpour in Leeds or something.

But the four lost games in the Premier were apparently owing to a lack of referees which has to be a real concern in the top league of grassroots football that we cover.

Saturday’s games between Headingley and Pool, Hunslet Club and Knaresborough Town, Ilkley Town and Brighouse Old Boys and Sherburn White Rose and Shelley were all postponed at the weekend which is exactly what the grassroots football doesn’t need in light of previous seasons’ fixture pile-ups.

The weather has by and large been kind so far this term but rest assured that will change before long.

When it comes to grassroots football, weekend wipeouts are commonplace with seasons often extended to the end of May and even nearing June due to fixture congestion.

There is, though, little you can do about the weather.

But when games are called off due to a lack of referees it really is a crying shame, as Knaresborough Town’s Andy Pickles alluded to on Twitter.

He Tweeted: “Been involved in @WYAFLOfficial for 14 years, never had a Prem game postponed for lack of refs @HunsletClub @KnaresboroughFC off #shocking.

But a reply indicated that the current predicament is the same in many other leagues and moreover a sign of the times. There are many issues that need looking at in the grassroots game and a lack of referees should be top of the pile. As we saw at the weekend, without them there is quite simply no game.

Ben Jones, left of Old Centralians and Matthew Martin of Swillington challenge.

Slideshow: Swillington v Old Centralians