Halifax referee’s 1,000 games

Ref Ian Childs.
Ref Ian Childs.

It may have seemed like any other Sunday morning for the players but for Ian Childs it was a special one.

The 56-year-old referee from Norton Tower officiated at his 1000th game when taking charge of the Halifax FA Sunday Cup game between Woodhouse United and Beehive and Cross Keys last weekend.

That completed another double shift, match number 999 having coming less than 24 hours earlier when he refereed the Brighouse Old Boys versus St Columbas game in the equivalent Saturday competition.

Summing up his weekend Child said: “It was not too bad. Saturday’s game was the better one and I didn’t have to book anyone but I booked two on Sunday.”

Sunday’s contest, won by the visitors, was apparently quite a feisty one. However, Childs has seen it all before in a 21-year career, the details of which he has meticulously recorded.

Childs, who lives at Norton Tower and works at WKW Engineering near the Shay, is originally from north London. His wife Elizabeth is from Halifax and he moved to the area with her in 1988.

He played in goal for Warley Town for three seasons, turning to refereeing at the age of 34 after a hernia operation had left him unable to dive around as much.

Ian passed the exam and became a class three referee in December 1992. He joined the Halifax Referees’ Association and took charge of his first game at Stainland the following month.

“I was very nervous but everything went okay,” he said.

A few years later Childs earned promotion to class one status - qualified to Premier League level - only for the FA to move the goal posts the following season.

A new class one to 10 system was introduced with a FIFA official on one, and Ian was now a level 5 county referee.

In 2005 Childs started refereeing in the Halifax Sunday League as well as on Saturdays. He was also out during the week running the line in the Lancashire League as well as being at under 19 matches.

He then elected to referee on alternate Saturdays in Halifax and broaden his horizons by taking charge of games in the West Riding County Amateur League, Huddersfield League and Lancashire League.

As one of two local referees who wears glasses, Childs dons a peaked black cap if it rains during matches.

“I can’t wear contact lenses and it keeps the rain off my glasses,” he explained, confirming that he had heard all of the jokes along the “You should have gone to Specsavers’ lines.

Childs said refereeing could involve plenty of paper work in reporting bookings and sendings off.

He said it was important for referees to learn man management skills and keep talking to the players to avoid things getting out of hand. Sending off two players in a game was the strongest action he had been forced to take.

Childs said the highlight of a season would be if you were awarded a final, particularly if you were the referee rather than a linesman.

Commitments during the week can mean he is out for up to four nights and he said his wife had been very supportive of his hobby, taking phone messages when he was not in.

“I can’t believe that I have done 1,000 games and been married for 30 years!” he said.

“My next goal is to complete 25 years’ service.”