Last weekend, Referee Shaun Tobin celebrated twenty five years with the whistle.
After playing football at youth level, Shaun spent a while helping to coach Stratton Red Eagles FC with his brother. He’d spend time putting the nets on the goals, helping where he could and occasionally running the line.
At seventeen years of age, Shaun was told he was doing a great job running the line and was asked if he’d ever given any thought to becoming a referee. He approached the Club Chairman/Manager to sound him out but he wasn’t supportive of the idea.
Shaun didn’t give it another thought until the following Sunday when the appointed referee failed to show up for their league game. The team manager refereed that game and Shaun had booked himself on a Referee Course by the teams’ next training session and so his journey began.
The course was spread over a seven week period which included five weeks learning the Laws of the Game and then exams during the final two weeks. Having passed his Referee exam, Shaun spent the remainder of the season officiating youth football.
During his first full season with the whistle, Shaun refereed as much as he could, including Saturday adult, youth, Sunday and women’s football.
During the 1994/95 season Shaun was promoted to a Class 2 (Level 6) referee and won the Trevor Titcombe Award for Best Referee on the Swindon & District Football League. As if that wasn’t enough for one season, Shaun was also awarded the Wiltshire FA Mick Bevan Award for Best Junior Referee in Wiltshire.
Shaun continued his refereeing for a number of years and in 2000 was promoted to Class 1 (Level 5 referee) and subsequently Level 4 when he started officiated on the Hellenic League and Southern League. Shaun remembers that at first it was difficult to get used to the pace of the game.
During his career to date, Shaun has had the honour of refereeing in both the FA Cup and FA Vase; both of which he’s extremely proud of.
When Shaun first started, referees were encouraged to run both right and left wings (this is the wing that the assistant referee will run during the game with the referee running the alternative diagonal). Some years back, the Football Association decided that it would encourage all referees to run right wings only. Shaun is infamous in local refereeing as being one of the very few remaining referees who still run left wings.
So what’s next?
Shaun’s next goal is to referee a Western League game with his two sons running the line, and who knows, maybe a Cup Final with them one day.
Well done on your 25 years with the whistle Shaun – long may it continue!
Want to follow in Shaun’s footsteps? Contact Kevin Small, Referee Development Officer at 01793 486047 / Kevin.Small@WiltshireFA.com to find out about our coming courses.