Rooney decision spells trouble for park referees, says Macaculay

Well-known Leamington referee Duncan Macaulay says the Football Association’s decision to appeal Wayne Rooney’s three-match international ban will make refereeing at park level even harder.

Rooney’s suspension for his sending-off against Montenegro in October was reduced to two matches at a hearing at Uefa headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, and Macaulay believes it sets a dangerous precedent.

“The FA don’t help,” said Macaulay.

“Players in the Premiership continue to verbally abuse referees and they get away with it.

Wayne Rooney deliberately kicked a foreign player.

“But the FA have condoned it because they want him to play.

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“If players kick someone on a Sunday morning, they’ll say, Wayne Rooney got away with it, why can’t I?”

Macaulay knows what he is talking about having been a referee for 45 years, 41 of which have seen him officiating in the Leamington & District Sunday League.

The 66-year-old has also refereed at six County Cup finals, the Coventry Evening Telegraph Cup final and run the line in a schoolboy international.

However, an illustrious career is set to end on Sunday when he takes charge of his final game - Stockton Reserves versus Tiddington.

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“I’ve loved doing it and I’ve made many many friends, but the enjoyment has gone,” he said.

“There aren’t the characters in the game any more. You used to have players who would take the mickey and it was enjoyable.

“It was a man’s game.

“The players used to kick lumps out of each other, but there was never any moaning and groaning and I never had to show cards.

“Now it’s all whingeing and whining. A player only has to get touched to roll about.

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“There are players wearing gloves and it’s gone namby pamby.

“It’s become a non-contact sport.”

Macaulay, who went 12 years before handing out his first red card, says instead of engaging with the players or “giving them a damn good talking to”, the current crop of referees seem to be in competition to see who can hand out the most cautions.

However, while disparaging of the game at senior level, he reserved his most stinging criticism for junior football and in particular, the pressure placed on young players by their parents.

“Parents want to win at all costs. I gave up [refereeing junior games] four or five years ago because I couldn’t handle all the abuse from spectators.

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“It didn’t bother me with the men because I used to be able to switch off.

“But when they’re verbally abusing their own kids, I think that’s terrible.”

Despite his long association with the game, the Whitnash whistler admits he never had any enthusiasm for playing football before being encouraged to take up refereeing.

However, he does believe that former players should be encouraged to draw on their experience by becoming officials.

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“It does help [having played the game]. Some of the players I found hardest to referee have now gone on to be damn good referees.”

For Macaulay, it will now be a case of handing out fixtures rather than cards as he continues his work as appointments secretary for the Leamington & District Sunday League.

There will be plenty of great memories to look back on, though, like the time a player stood on the ball and it went bang or when he had to stay away from the touchline to avoid being tripped up by angry women with umbrellas.

However, he says the best feeling, was when he took charge of the 1990-91 Coventry Evening Telegraph Cup final at Coventry City’s old Highfield Road ground.

“I walked out in front of 3,000 people at Highfield Road and I remember thinking I’m the best referee in the area because this is the best game of the night and they’ve got me to referee it.”