Butcher: All I want is a little respect

SOCCER: Brennan Butcher has overcome a serious heart condition to become one of Ipswich's most promising referees. After just four years the 29-year-old is poised to be promoted to level five (formerly class one), and he can look forward to taking charge of senior games for the next 15 years or so.

By Elvin King

BRENNAN Butcher has overcome a serious heart condition to become one of Ipswich's most promising referees.

After just four years the 29-year-old is poised to be promoted to level five (formerly class one), and he can look forward to taking charge of senior games for the next 15 years or so.

Of the scores of aspiring officials who pass the referees' course every year precious few are made of the right stuff to make a long-term contribution.

The majority hang up their whistles relatively early for a number of reasons, although the treatment they receive from players is certainly a main contributory factor.

Butcher is one who has come through with flying colours. He enjoys refereeing and is obviously doing the right thing to have been marked highly enough to rise so rapidly up the ladder.

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But even he is not immune from the mindless minority who blight the game with their undisciplined ways.

He was set upon during last weekend's Ipswich Sunday League First Division match between Kirton and Case is Altered after sending off a home player in the final minutes.

He had previously sent off two other Kirton players and cautioned two others. Butcher has nothing but praise for the behaviour of the Case is Altered players.

"Two home players were sent off for two yellow card offences," said Butcher today. "And with two minutes to go I had no option than to show a red card to a Kirton player because of foul and abusive language.

"He then tried to attack me and had to be held back by team-mates who pulled him away.

"One of Kirton players refused to give his name when asked and I have reported the club for their part in this affair.

"I think the Kirton players thought I should have booked player(s) from the opposition side, but the Case is Altered handled themselves well – so well that I have sent a letter of congratulations to their club.

"If all players acted in the same way there would be far more referees still around and it would be much more rewarding for the men in black.

"We all have to show red cards when merited and I have sent 20 players off this season. I don't particularly want to but have to go along with the laws of the game.

"When you have a game like I had on Sunday it makes you think twice about carrying on, but I intend to keep going and look forward to meeting a better class of player if I gain promotion.

"There are plenty more good players around than bad ones and my aim is to take charge of Jewson League games one day, whether I gain promotion this summer or not."

Butcher had a brief playing career before entering Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, for a heart operation.

He says that he is as fit as a fiddle these days after two holes were repaired in his heart.

"The operation ended my playing career, as much as it was," added Butcher. "I took up refereeing and generally enjoy doing it.

"Like all referees all I ask for is to be treated with respect."

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