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Elders need to set a good example for young aces

DAVE HANNIGAN wrote a brilliant piece in the 'Sunday Tribune'. It should be pinned up on every dressing room in the country.

Dave lives in America. His son, Abe, plays soccer there. It was a beautiful, sunny morning. Perfect for a game.

The Under-9's were having a ball. Well, for the first three minutes.

Then it started......the vocal abuse of the referee from the grandparents of one of the players.

On it went. Every free kick, corner and every other decision was questioned by the pair in the most alarming fashion.

It was certainly language that was not suitable for young ears. The referee was in his early 20's.

Dave said he had heard nothing like it since the time he was in among the visiting Newcastle United supporters many years ago at "the much lamented Highbury."

Eventually, the referee went to the sideline and asked the pensioners to stop. They didn't. They kept on with their cheat taunts.

He came over a second time. It only gave them more firelighters. The coach tried to reason with them. No good. They questioned his integrity too.

All the while their little grandson looked away embarrassed, hoping for the Horror Show to end. It only did so when the referee, on his third visit to the sideline, ordered the offending duo out of the park.

They wouldn't go. Organisers had to escort them away. As they were doing so, the not so glamorous grans kept saying "you haven't heard the last of this."

What a blessing it would be for everyone in the game if that indeed was the last that was heard from them and their ilk.

Young kids need encouragement. That's the medicine of the soul. And young refs too. No matter what their age, they are just doing their best.

Dave went on to write how on another day a little boy was screamed at by his father, who was also the manager, for mis-directing a cross and then physically dragged off the pitch in tears.

Elders, managers, parents, spectators, should know better than to criticise a child, especially in front of people.

Wouldn't it be great if every sideline had the vow of silence except for such words as well done, try again, good shot, terrific tackle, keep it up, etc.

The best schoolboy manager of all time used to say the same words every week as his team were about to run out. "Make me proud."

Christy goes with the flow!

WHEN Henry's hand dealt Ireland a cruel blow in Paris, Brian O'Driscoll sent the Duffer a text.

O'Driscoll played schoolboy football for Trinity in the NDSL. If he continued with soccer, you'd imagine him as a kind of a Michael Robinson figure. An inside forward of power and pace.

O'Driscoll couldn't make the school rugby team at Blackrock College. There's a life's lesson there.

Christy Kelly has been refereeing for over 26 years. He still loves it. He's seen so many progress. And he especially remembers the Duffer with fondness.

"Even back in his schoolboy days he was always such a good dribbler," recalls Christy. "And I never had a seconds bother with him.

"He was always so well mannered. The perfect role model really."

Christy likes to let the play flow. "Players love to play. They just want to get on with it. That's the bottom line."

And, like the Duffer, they all go out with the best of intentions. "Ok, you might have the odd mis-timed tackle or whatever, but generally, there's very little problem."

And Christy's presence adds to it all. Earlier this season, deep in a match, a player asked him how long was left. "Don't mind the clock," retorted Christy. "Sure, aren't we all enjoying ourselves. I'm only warming up."

E-MAIL: niallscullyfootball@eircom.net