Ref no show delays derby match

Fans who had to wait for a delayed start.
Fans who had to wait for a delayed start.

St. Peter’s chairman Paul Lavery was ‘disappointed’ the big local derby against Clann Éireann had to be put back for two and a half hours due to no referee being available to officiate the game.

On Sunday a big crowd had turned up to watch the clash of the two North Lurgan sides, but minutes before the throw in time of 1 .00pm players were informed no referee was available.

St. Peter’s and Clann Éireann officials travelled to Davit Park and spoke to the referee who was in charge of the Clan na Gael against Wolfe Tones game which had began at 1 pm. The official in charge, South Armagh man Raymond Watters, agreed to stay in Lurgan to referee at St. Peter’s and the match was moved to a later time of 3.30pm.

St. Peter’s chairman Paul Lavery said, “We are disappointed for both the players and for the big number of supporters we had to turn away. Our secretary received an email 15 minutes before the throw in time stating that no referee was available for our game.

“This would be more of an observation than a criticism, but we are forever being told that where there is a shortage of referees on any given day clubs who have referees in the system will normally be catered for. St. Peter’s have two referees who take charge of games week in and week out so we thought we would be covered particularly for a Senior League game.”

Many club members in the County are suggesting that with the majority of Armagh referees over the 50 years of age more difficulties like the this will become common place unless new blood is introduced.

While some would suggest this scenario has been tried in the past recent disagreements between referees and County Boards have affected the confidence of match officials according to some sources.

A number of supporters who had initially attended the game didn’t return later in the day for the new 3.30pm start - a scenario which in essence effected the host club on a day which was set to accommodate their biggest crowd of the season.

With increasing costs crippling many clubs ,officials and supporters depend on gate receipts along with a host of other fund raising activities to keep afloat, had last Sunday’s derby been fixed for a later date and played in less favourable weather conditions, the host club would no doubt have taken a financial hit.