An experienced West Tyrone optometrist has confirmed what thousands of spectators have been saying for years; over four-fifths of referees need some form of eye enhancement, with many unable to see anything over ten yards ahead of them.
Although the news has caused some concern for officials, many supporters have developed a new-found respect for the man in the middle, with the realisation that they have been calling some correct decisions during matches even though they hadn’t a notion what was happening.
Referee assessor Paddy Horgan agreed:
“We’re amazed that they get anything right. So, fair play to them. Some refs’ eyesight is that bad that they get into the wrong car after a game. How they make it home is another miracle.
The Tyrone County Board have agreed to charge match-goers an extra pound during next year’s league and championship games which will go towards buying over 3000 pairs of binned National Health glasses for referees in the county in 2019.
Joey Mackle, a Moy entrepreneur, has patented an elastic band which will be attached to the legs of the glasses and wound around the back of the referee’s head. The bands will come in different sizes to cater for different sizes of heads.
Meanwhile, umpires have asked for similar glasses for next year. The county board will ask Mackle to look into making glasses with wipers for umpires who tend to look up a lot more. This can be difficult on rainy days or when there are a lot of birds about.
Sources close to Tyrone GAA headquarters in Omagh have revealed that the sporting organisation are to offer a radical and controversial suggestion to help ease the current panic over plot space for the deceased.
An emergency meeting this morning, convened after a startling headline in the Irish News this morning over limited graveyard space, resulted in a motion tabled that the GAA in the county employ willing and able recently-deceased Gaels as umpires and on some occasions as linesmen in order to fulfil the minimum requirement for fixtures especially with the imminent threat of strikes from match officials over match-day fees looming large. All umpires, alive or dead, must be between the ages 65 and 80 as the current rule stands.
Our source, who confirmed a doctor was also in attendance to explain the medical side of things, explained how the motion was passed with an overwhelming majority:
“The doctor was was very convincing. He knew his stuff. He says the rigor mortis was perfect for the stance of an umpire and that many supporters wouldn’t be able to tell the difference anyway. The county secretary added that only those who signed a legal contract before death allowing their bodies to be used for posthumous officiating would be considered, and only if they’d paid up the annual membership fee for their club right up until they expired.”
Our source went on to reveal how a committee member suggested the deceased volunteer could use their club colours, continuing their great club volunteer work beyond the grave. When questioned on how scores and wides would be signalled, he explained:
“Well, an electrician from Dromore said he could wire up lights to their coats so if it was a wide the ref would press a button and red lights would flash on the umpire’s coat, with orange lights for a point and green lights for a goal. It seemed pretty straightforward and goes a long way to call the bluff from the upcoming umpire strikers.”
The Church have yet to respond to the offer but reports suggest they’re open to any solution to solve the overcrowding issue. However, the county’s Goalkeeping Union have voiced concerns at how off-putting it might be for goalkeepers, especially for evening games with a sparse crowd in attendance, to have two dead umpires beside him.
A motion to use the expired volunteers as actual referees was narrowly rejected.
An unnamed Tyrone player is said to be sitting at home ‘hopping mad’ after it was revealed he was presented with a caterpillar birthday cake for his 32nd birthday, for the second year running.
The Carrickmore defender, whose identity is being kept under wraps, was presented with the cake after training on Tuesday night in the changing rooms ahead of their preliminary round replay against Down this weekend.
A source close to the team revealed how the iconic defender initially reacted with indifference before launching a four-lettered tirade against the management and fellow players.
“Flip, he lost it. The worst thing about it was the cake might have been the same one as last year. I remember the mouth fell off last year and this one had no gob too. I think what really pissed him off was the Happy Birthday song. Only a couple half-heartedly sang it and it had completely tailed off by the time his name was mentioned.”
In a remarkable fit of temper, the player lifted the cake and flung it against the wall above the head of the assistant manager. Embarrassingly, the cake bounced back off the wall and struck the ageing Carrickmore man on the groin, causing a ripple of giggles from the younger players in the squad.
“He nearly took the head clean off one of our nippy forwards who was smirking at the bouncing cake. I really thought the Edendork finisher wasn’t going to make it out of that changing room upright. Luckily, the boss produced a party popper with streamers and that seemed to settle the veteran. He stopped effing.”
Since the incident, the Tyrone County Board have drawn up watertight birthday procedures which includes a bouncy slide to be placed at the side of the pitch for jollification after training. Clowns will also be employed with many inter-county referees filling in there.
A high-profile undercover investigator has shattered an underground refereeing ring in Strabane where up to 30 Tyrone referees meet up weekly and laugh at some of the decisions they made and are going to make the following weekend. Joe Wheeler, the Welsh freelance TV reporter, pretended to show an interest in refereeing this coming season by getting himself into some shape and buying a shiny new whistle.
After an initial vetting service, Wheeler was asked along to the first meeting which was held in an underground bunker on the Urney Road.
“To be honest, the vetting process wasn’t too taxing. They just asked me to blow the whistle three times and point in various directions. That was it. I was in.”
Wheeler was told he’d probably referee a few U16 games in Ardboe to harden him up before embarking on Division Three of the Tyrone All County League.
“They reckoned a few underage games between Ardboe and Moortown would make a man of me. But it was what went on during the meeting that shocked me. All 30 refs took turns in telling yarns about the worst decisions they made last weekend and everyone was bent over laughing. The drink was flying but it was some craic to be fair. One ref said he deliberately turned a blind eye to a player getting the head battered off him because he remembered the lad’s father refused him access to a rampart years ago. They did some guffawing at that one.”
The Welsh reporter was even more astounded when matters turned to this weekend’s matches:
“Remarkably, as well as being given their fixtures to referee this weekend, they were also given a scoreline to work towards. There was a rollover jackpot with all men putting a fiver into the pot which now stood at £490. Anyone who got their score correctly won the dough. A bonus pot of £100 was also given every week to the ref who made the worst decision. This time a ref from Killyman won for sending off a Killeeshil player for wearing ankle socks.”
Wheeler reported that they all agreed to give the following teams ‘a bad touch’ this year: Owen Roes, The Rock, The Moy, Killyclogher, Dregish, Derrytresk, Carrickmore and Kildress.
The Tyrone Referees’ Association were unavailable for comment.