As we continue our 360-degree examination of Saturday’s Toolstation NCEL Premier Division clash between Hemsworth Miners Welfare and Athersley Recreation at the Yorkshire NuBuilds Stadium, it’s worth noting that a familiar and popular face will be the man in the middle this weekend.
Referee Danny Guest has received rave reviews for his recent TBG piece giving his take on refereeing in Non-League football. The article – an interview with TBG’s Editor Craig Kendall, expertly transcribed by Wells’ supporter Ellie Dalglish – was universally well-received, and evoked positive feedback from all our readers. Danny kindly took time out again to inform Craig and Ellie about how refereeing appointments are made, his match day routine, and the third team in action in Fitzwilliam this Saturday, writes Ellie Dalglish and Craig Kendall for ‘Hemsworth-Action All Areas’.
Danny told us that he’d known about his appointment for this fixture some time back. “We find out a month in advance what games we have been allocated,” he told TBG. “It’s usually on the twentieth of each month, so on 20th October, I would have received November’s games. I’ve only got the one midweek game, which is Crewe Reserves against Birmingham City Reserves. Other than that, it’s just Saturdays in the Northern Counties and the Evo-Stik Leagues for November.”
He admitted that there are games that he hopes to get to referee. ”There are plenty of games where I think, “I’d love to referee that game!” he admitted. “Obviously there are the top of the table clashes that everybody theoretically likes to referee. Then at the other end of the table are games which are equally as important to both sides. It’s unfair to look at games and think, ‘Wow! That’s the one that I really want!’, because you’d be doing the rest of the games an injustice – but I would be lying if I didn’t say ‘I fancy that one!’
Danny was asked to compare and contrast the Northern Counties and Evo-Stik Leagues. “I would say the play is quicker and individual skill level is higher in the Evo-Stik League; but I’d say the Premier Division is the stronger league physically and is more difficult to referee in,” he told us. “The Evo-Stik is a lot easier to referee by a long stretch, but they both have different qualities, to be fair to them.”
Craig and Ellie wondered about the extent of Danny’s homework ahead of a fixture, and whether more information was available higher up the League system. “To be fair, it’s down to each individual referee as to what sort of homework they do,” Danny answered. “I do a fair bit of research on games that I referee. We get an email from the club secretaries two weeks beforehand, just giving us a bit of information about the ground directions and who we need to speak to on the day. Other than that, it’s just up to the individual what information they want.”
“I’ve changed my approach over the years,” Danny confessed, “sometimes I used to want to go in blind so that I didn’t have any preconceived perceptions of who I was refereeing. However, that way, I wouldn’t know anybody that I was dealing with and it got to a point where that wasn’t working, so I changed things slightly. I made the effort to get to know the clubs and to get to know the players. I look at their Twitter feeds to see who’s active on there, who does what and who are the vocal ones (that clicking noise is Craig deactivating his Twitter feed!!) and it’s helped me, certainly over the last couple of seasons, which has obviously coincided with my promotion at the end of last season.”
Asked about his game-day preparations, Danny provided some insight into working with different Assistant Referees each week. “I have a couple of gym sessions during the week then do a bit of a speed session towards the end of the week to get the legs ready,” Danny confided. “I don’t do anything too prolonged. From my experience, if I do overly extended sessions late on in the week it does affect how you feel on the Saturday, so I do a bit of a sprint session for 20 to 30 minutes or so, probably Friday.”
Danny explained that he would have already made contact with his co-officials before heading to the NuBuilds. “I normally would have spoken to both Assistants on the Wednesday,” he said, before revealing, “however, I’ve already spoken to one today and there has been a change. Sam Wright’s come off from Sheffield and he’s been replaced by Jamie Coghill, a lad from Rotherham. It’s quite fortunate for me this weekend in that I’ve worked with these lads on numerous occasions so I know what they’re about and likewise they know what I’m about. Meaning the trust element, I spoke about in my original TBG piece will be in full force on Saturday, because of knowing both lads really well. I know their capabilities, and I know how much trust I can put in them, which helps me no end.”
The TBG guys were interested in the feedback Danny had received after his article last month. His reply was encouraging, “it’s been genuinely positive from all angles,” he enthused, “I’ve not had anything negative whatsoever – not even any sly digs or smart remarks or anything like that. It’s been really well received by clubs. People have commented on Twitter and people have also commented face to face when I’ve been to games or whatever.”
“People have agreed that it was a good read and they appreciated how honest it was and that it didn’t beat about the bush,” Danny went on. “It was also an interesting read from the side of the game you don’t particularly get to hear from much. The profile of referees has been raised over the last 15-20 years or so, to a point now where they are household names, just like the players. If you think back maybe 15-20 years and try to name any prominent referees in the Premier League, you wouldn’t stand a chance! Whereas if you were to ask who they are now, you could probably pretty much name them all.”
“Yes, I think people are appreciative to hear things from The Dark Side, shall we say!”
You can find out if our Ellie is still a fan of Danny’s after Saturday’s game by following ‘Hemsworth-Action All Areas’ in the Bootiful Game this weekend!