Andy Wood - Diary of a Referee
"I recently arrived home from the Dallas Cup in the USA where I had one of the best experiences of my life.
I was nominated by the FA CORE as one of five referees to represent The FA from around the country and there was also three referees representing the PGMOL.
We all stayed with American families and my homestays lived in a beautiful house in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas, I stayed with Scott and Carol Doggett who were both really nice and welcoming to me.
After the ten hour flight from Heathrow our first morning saw us partake in a high intensity training session run by Leigh Doughty who is a level 2A referee, this training session was tough but enjoyable.
Later that day we took the opportunity to visit the JFK Museum which was very interesting.
The Saturday night saw the FIFA reception take place which was great to mingle with other referees from around the World, it was announced at the reception that unfortunately due to very heavy rain our first round of fixtures were all postponed apart from the opening games taking place in the Cotton Bowl which was a venue for the 1994 World Cup.
My fellow Derbyshire referee James Oldham was the man in the middle for the opening match of the tournament so we all went along to watch James in action, I was very impressed with the communication skills that James used and tried to adopt some of them for my own games.
As my first middle was one of the postponed games this meant my first taste of action came on the Monday when I was as an assistant referee to fellow English referee Stacey Ford from Devon, the pace of the game wasn’t that much quicker than I had been used to but I noticed how the Mexican teams can really test you as they waste time an awful lot when leading games.
My first middle saw me officiate two American Under 17’s teams from Maryland and California, my team of match officials came from Mexico, Hong Kong and USA, the game went relatively smooth for me with just one caution and the match finished 1-0, I was happy with my performance although one of the assistants kept buzzing me which I found off putting, he told me that he kept pressing it by accident when switching hands with the flag.
Our group all got along really well together and that night we all met at one of the homestays for a coaching session led by PGMOL coach and former premier league referee Steve Dunn, this session was a great insight into what observers at the higher level are looking for, we all gave points we felt needed development and everybody gave an answer with the skills we could use to do this.
I had a busy day on the Wednesday, I had a fourth official appointment in the morning before then picking up an under 19’s game as assistant referee, I was then fourth official again this time to first year football league referee Neil Hair, Neil had offered some great advice to us when chatting at games so it was great to work with him and see it close up.
Straight after that game I had an under 17’s final group game middle at 6pm, I remember going on to the pitch and finding it extremely humid which made it tough, however I felt this was my best performance of the tournament, having just worked with Neil I tried to adopt the positions he took up during that game and the communication skills of James and they seemed to come together well for me, the game finished 3-2 with no cautions and everybody happy, George Mccaffery the FA coach watched me in this game and his feed back was good.
We had a very heavy thunderstorm in the early hours of Thursday which saw all games at Moneygram Park called off, I was due to referee late afternoon so it was disappointing not to build on my previous performance.
I was delighted to be appointed to an under 14’s semi final middle on the Friday, Steve Dunn and James Oldham came to watch me in this game, it was a fairly windy day and the pitch was very hard so it was hard to judge where to position myself, at half time Steve and James gave me some feedback about using my arms as blinkers and keeping all the play and next phase in the blinkers, this seemed to work much better in the second half, again the game went well and that night I received the news that I had been appointed to one of the finals at the Toyota Stadium, home of FC Dallas.
I was delighted to receive this recognition following good performances and it was made even more better that two of my fellow English colleagues were also on the game.
Yasmin Saeed (Manchester FA) refereed the game, I was the senior assistant and Dan Spyer (Wiltshire FA) was the other assistant with Daniel Va of Florida the fourth official.
Yaz has had a great first season at level 4 and I was really looking forward to working with her.
It was the under 15’s of Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany) versus Tigres (Mexico), the weather was very hot and I was excited to be officiating in such a wonderful stadium.
Yaz was kept busy and awarded three penalties in the game of which all were great decisions, Tigres won the match 3-2 and we received great feedback from all our fellow referees and coaches who had a great view from high up in the stands.
The Final was unexpected and capped off an amazing trip for me to which I am grateful to The FA, Derbyshire FA and my FA CORE coaches for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity, so many great memories and hopefully the new skills I learnt can help me take my own game to another level."