‘Whistleblower’ is David Matthews, a long serving honorary

life member of the club .

He was President of Lancashire County RFU for 2014/2015

He enjoyed twenty years on the RFU Referee List, including two seasons on the International Panel between 1992-94. This also comprised Assistant Referee duties and work as Television Match Official for eleven years

 to 2012.


David Matthews sees encouraging signs in the opening month

My rugby odyssey in the first month has taken me into unfamiliar territory, a level 3 fixture at Caldy and a match at Taunton in level 4. I had never been there before and it’s a long time since I visited Caldy in an official capacity. If you had declared fifteen years ago that they would now be the most senior team on Merseyside and arguably the North West, leaving Premiership Sale out of it, no-one would have believed you. But, in 2017, here they are in the upper echelons of National League One.

When I paid a visit, Fylde was the opposition and, on the end of a fairly comfortable defeat, the Lytham side look to have big problems. Despite its scenic attractions, many of the clubs in National League One, appearing for the first time, will be surprised at the lack of facilities at Caldy. Restricted by their green belt location and a cricket square on one side of the pitch, any plans for development are severely handicapped. Nevertheless, their remarkable advance up the leagues should be applauded; in the Fylde game, they were rarely under pressure and look equipped to give most opposition a run for their money at the picturesque Paton Field. Lest you are wondering why the referee has not been mentioned, he avoided anything remotely controversial. When asked by his assessor what I thought, the answer had to be the rarely used “didn't notice him,” another way of saying “he was actually quite good.” In days of retirement from blowing the whistle I have disappointingly joined the ranks of most spectators in their dim view of referees.

Whenever I am in another part of the country on holiday there is a compulsive urge to watch a match and a couple of weeks ago Taunton v Barnstaple, at that time joint leaders of National League Two South, was the chosen fixture. Taunton moved to a modern headquarters thirteen years ago, situated right next to the M5 Motorway. They made the headlines, away from the back pages, when smoke from bonfire night celebrations caused a serious accident on this stretch of road, but came out of the investigation without recrimination. It is clearly a progressive club which had far too much speed and organisation for the visitors in what was one of the most one-sided contests I have seen. What of the ref? He looked right for this standard but tended to over-impose himself towards the end; one team wanted to run everything and the other could hardly stand up, so why? There would definitely be an assessor in attendance.

In his Monday column in The Daily Telegraph Brian Moore has been attempting to show that the slight alteration to the ruck law has opened up the game. His claim that on the first Premiership Saturday a record fifty tries were scored lost its impact the following week when only half that total was registered. I think we might be pushing it to convince ourselves that this small amount of tinkering has brought such a dramatic improvement.

New season new referees. There are so many referees and assistants who are new to me, a sure sign of age, with many of them, like policemen, looking ever younger. But, as I said a couple of weeks ago, we are heading in the right direction. Add two clubs also making big progress and you soon become cheerful.

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