Ipswich Referees’ Association celebrate centenary in style

REFEREES will still play an important role in another 100 years’ time – despite the growing calls for the use of technology.

That was the message which came across loud and clear as Ipswich Referees’ Association celebrated their 100th anniversary at a gala evening on Monday night.

The event came just 24 hours after referee Martin Atkinson awarded a goal that never was for Chelsea’s Juan Mata in their FA Cup semi-final clash with Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Sunday.

Among the guests was Alan Poulain, chairman of the national Referees’ Association, who said: “Technology may be around, but you will never do without referees – you need that personal touch.”

He congratulated Ipswich RA on celebrating their centenary and on behalf of the Referees’ Association presented a gavel and block to Ipswich RA chairman Mike Moir.

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Poulain, who was attending his last official function after six years as national chairman, added: “I can’t think of a better way to bow out.”

Janie Frampton, national referee manager for education and training at the Football Association, also spoke about the role of technology in football in the future.

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She said: “In the next 100 years we will still need referees – I don’t think technology will take over completely.

“Human error makes this game so precious; without it what are we going to discuss on a Monday morning?”

Suffolk FA chief executive Phil Knight, a referee himself, also congratulated Ipswich RA on reaching the landmark.

There was a minute’s applause in memory of Gerald Johnson, who spent three years researching and compiling a 100-year history of Ipswich RA prior to his passing away after a long illness last September.

The 136-page book was taken on and finished by the association’s PRO David Sale, and copies were distributed to the 85 people that attended the evening at the Rosary Conservative Club in Bramford Road, Ipswich.

Those present at the event, sponsored by Globex Freight Management Ltd of Felixstowe and the DMR Sunday Football League, were guests and members, past and present, including life member Gordon Blake, the association’s longest-serving member of 57 years.

Ipswich RA chairman Moir said: “The evening has gone brilliantly. As a committee we decided to make the evening as informal as possible and keep speeches to a minimum to allow those present to catch up with each other.

“It is a shame there are very few youngsters here. We are trying all we can to get youngsters into the society, but they don’t seem to be interested these days.”

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