Referees go and do their job without much fuss and usually take the flak from players, management and supporters of the team that have lost.
“That was offside, handball, he dived and that goal should never have stood,” are just some of the grievances you’d hear during and post match.
Today’s referees though are fairly thick skinned, you’d have to be especially in local football where appeals for penalties, free kicks, offsides etc are argued for in the hundreds over the course of 90 minutes.
Ray Murphy has just returned refereeing after a spell in charge of St Mary’s and the support he has received has allowed it run smoothly.
“It was very easy to return to refereeing to be honest, the support from the ISRS (Irish Soccer Referees Society) was great and I was still officiating at schoolboy games while managing so it was like a duck to water coming back.
“Obviously, adult football is a step up from schoolboy football but it’s great to be back and as a huge fan of football all my life, I have the best view of the lot standing right in the midst of a live game,” said Ray.
John Murphy, father of Ray is also a massive football man and gets to as many games as possible and his footballing influence on Ray is akin to that of a footballing family dynasty with Ray’s two sons, Cian and Eoin playing to a high standard with Galway Utd and Rockmount respectively.
“Yeah, my dad played with Blackpool Celtic and used to take me to all the matches, after that we enjoyed the birth of two clubs that would leave a lasting impression in Cork football, Blarney Street United and Maymount Celtic.
“We both had a big involvement there with myself managing teams at 20 years of age and sucess came very easy, we won a lot of schoolboys trophies with Blarney Street United but then with Maymount Celtic, it took off.
“Blarney Street would only compete at schoolboy’s level so when we got to U16s, the players were having to move on to other clubs until such time that the parents asked us to set up older teams which led to the emergence of Maymount Celtic.
“We dominated schoolboys with a team dubbed the ‘Dream Team’ winning many trophies with Blarney Street United and then to go and win 10 leagues in a row with Maymount Celtic was magical and a lot of them great players came through the ranks at Blarney Street United to play with Maymount so we could cater for them beyond schoolboy football including that junior team that went and conquered all in the AUL.
“Alan Kearney went to Everton, Billy Clarke to lpswich and Daniel Duggan, Alan King, John O’Sullivan, Anthony Fenton, Darren O’Regan and Gareth Cambridge and I could name so many more fantastic footballers that we had under our wing,” commented Ray.
The domination was such that winning trophies was the norm and most clubs were comprehensively beaten before they played Blarney Street United or Maymount Celtic.
“We had fablous memories, the 10 in a row team, winning Munster Youths Cup in 2005 and the forming of a junior team and coming from the 3rd Division to the Premier Division in four seasons culminating in us winning the four leagues.
“l took up refereeing in 2007 as I had enough of managing, we were at it for many hard winters but no doubt about it, my dad is unbelievable, an inspiration, 80 years of age and still goes to at least five games a week, football is the man’s life.
“We both love local football, it’s the be all and end all, love the crack on the sidelines, love being with my dad and his mates at the games and I still to this day don’t understand how they see anything during a game as all they do is talk and have a laugh, said Ray more commonly know to all as ‘Chalkie’
The passion for managing was itching away at Ray though and after a lot of persuasion, he took over at St Mary’s after a bit of persuasion from a man steeped in St Mary’s Football Club, Ken Daly.
“The bug hit me again and a very persuasive Ken Daly kept chipping away at me and in end I had to say yes, my time at St Marys was fantastic, we built a young side and won the league with my two sons on the team so that was extra special but just prior to this season starting as we were building towards a campaign in the Premier League I had to walk away due to family commitments and work as l couldnt give it 100%.
“However, I look back at it with very fond memories and count myself very lucky to have had three wonderful men with me at the club during that time in Billy Long, Ian Bennis and Ethan McCarthy.”
Ray had never hid his angst towards referees during his time as a manager but since taking on the position himself over 10 years ago he has got to see the other side.
“I disliked referees and everything about them, I taught they didn’t care but since becoming a referee myself the committment they have to the game is unbelievable.
“People will say we get paid but a referee could be doing a game in Cobh at 2pm for example, he’s leaving home at 12.30pm and not getting home until 5pm all this for under €50 and that includes petrol, wear and tear of your car, no person would accept that in a working environment so hats off to all my colleagues for the commitment.
“Pat Kelly was my biggest influence as he has been to many and was always asking me to take up refereeing, I initially said not a hope but he rebuffed “you’re refereeing games for years on the sideline” so I said I’d do a course just to shut him up.
“I completed the course and got a few games the following week and I just got the bug, progressed from there and despite players saying you’re the worst referee we ever had, I always say at least I’m consistent and I’m bad every week and that nearly always gets a smile from them and breaks the ice regarding respect,” said Ray.
Chalkie gets to see lots of football each week whether he’s in the middle refereeing the game or on the sideline as a supporter and he believes local football is in a very strong place.
“I think Cork soccer, locally, is in a very healthy place, you look at Munster Senior League clubs and their facilities are top drawer, you go to the AUL where there are very strong leagues and another lot of great facilities,
“People will say some pitches are very poor but they are doing the best they can, youths football is unbelievably strong and you can see that week in, week out and schoolboys football is going from strength to strength.
“You can see that on all Irish teams with at least a few Cork lads on each team and take last weeks International against Denmark, three Cork men starting on the Ireland team, when did that last happen?,” concluded Ray.
Ray Murphy sat down and spoke to Paul Hogan for Cork Sports News.