Tackling a challenge when built for fun, not speed
EVERYONE remembers rugby league refereeing greats: Bill Harrigan, Barry 'The Grasshopper' Gomersall, Greg 'Hollywood' Hartley, or Col Pierce. But ask anyone about a famous touch judge and faces go blank.
So when I got the call up to do the touch line for the local junior football on Saturday, I needed to explore rigidly for some inspiration.
Having not gone past a jog in the past two years (except for running to the TAB window at the racetrack), I couldn't rely on my fitness to get me over the line.
My fellow touch judge Dan was equally as worried. Like me, Dan is built for fun not speed. And together we have eaten at least one of every type of fried offering served at local footy club canteens in all of Southern Queensland.
We have seen so much of each other in canteen lines over the past two years we even contemplated writing the Blokes Guide to Footy Food, replacing stars with fat blokes.
On Saturday morning I ran into Mick O'Donnell, a league legend and one time leading touch judge in the local comp.
Basically Mick told me I would more than likely die of a heart attack or lay there like a turtle screaming for help. Mick proved to be his usual, helpful self.
Things went from bad to worse when handed by official touch judge shirt that was designed to fit a 14-year-old boy, and looked more like a rash shirt I used to wear at the beach.
So the game was about to begin and I have never seen the first aid officers more nervous, and the canteen ladies so disappointed.
Everything went well until one of the teams scored and I had to sprint - well it's sprinting to me, maybe a light jog to most people - from the goal post to half way.
By the time I arrived they had already kicked off and were almost on the second tackle.
The game went well overall, except for an arm injury from waving the flag too much, Mick's constant advice from the sideline, and abuse from the water runners for drinking more water than the kids.
Woke up a little sore Sunday, but I recommend every parent should do some refereeing, just to get a realisation of how well our local young and old officials actually do.
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