You are the ref


Regular readers will know that, in addition to maths, I like my sport and, as age diminishes my already limited ability, I find myself increasingly taking to pitch to officiate rather than play.

Although it is some fifteen years or more since I qualified as a football ref., I have kept myself abreast of the laws of the game through watching Match of the Day, listening to Six-O-Six, but mainly through reading “You Are the Ref” books.

Those of you of a certain age will remember these comic strips that were published in the newspaper: in the course of a few hand drawn frames you were shown an unfolding series of events leading to an incident on the football pitch, before posing the question: “You are the ref. What decision do you make.”

As the years have unfolded, the scenarios, by necessity, have become a little more outlandish, a little more unlikely:

It is the last minute of a thrilling and closely contested cup tie. The scores are level when Manpool’s star striker picks up the ball on the half way line and begins a mazey run. Just outside the penalty area he draws back his right leg and unleashes a terrific strike that sees the ball rocket towards the top left hand corner of the goal.This might be the moment that sends Manpool to Wembley to contest the final.

But Evercastle’s goalkeeper has played a blinder all afternoon and is moving confidently to his right. Perhaps he’ll tip the ball over the bar for a corner?

But, just as the ball is six yards from the goal, a golden eagle, that had escaped from its handler during the pre-match entertainment, swoops down and attempts to grab the ball with its talons, puncturing the ball which drops from the sky and bounces limply over the goal line, having wrong footed the keeper.

Manpool leap for joy to celebrate the goal. Evercastle surround you to complain. The golden eagle flies off into the sunset.

You are the ref. What do you do next?

I think we could have a similar series for teachers, but based on real examples:

You are working with your Year 11s, having a go at a past paper for the first time. You are sat at table helping a girl solve an algebra problem. When finished, you turn to her neighbour who asks you if her answer to a different question is correct. It is.

The first girl has been watching this, and she had got a different answer. “Bollocks” she exclaims. “I’ve got that one wrong as well, then.”

Swearing is, of course, against the school rules.

You are the ref teacher. What do you do next?

The above happened to me the other day. I know what I did, but what would you have done?

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