Dales are keeping it in the family

IT will be a case of keeping it in the family tonight when Woodbridge Town play Leiston in the Ridgeons Youth League Central Division.Taking charge of the match will be 18-year-old Alan Dale from Ipswich - and on the line will be his father Chris and elder brother James.

By Elvin King

IT will be a case of keeping it in the family tonight when Woodbridge Town play Leiston in the Ridgeons Youth League Central Division.

Taking charge of the match will be 18-year-old Alan Dale from Ipswich - and on the line will be his father Chris and elder brother James.

“I am sure my dad will keep up,” quipped Alan, who passed the examination to become a referee when he was just 13.


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It was Chris who took up the whistle first when James was playing Cubs football 13 years ago.

Alan says that he wants to reach the top, and he takes his determination to do well from his father who was hospitalised after a well-publicised incident in a Sunday match played in Ipswich that resulted in a court case.

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“My dad was not put off refereeing by the assault,” added Alan.

“He was back as soon as he could and is refereeing regularly.

“And I love it as well.

“I did not think I would get as much enjoyment as I do and I would like to reach the top.

“There is a structure in place and Suffolk already has Mick Thorpe from Martlesham on the Football League middle and Richard Beevor from Beccles on the Football League line.”

On Saturdays Alan either runs the line in the main two Ridgeons League divisions or takes charge of games in the reserve divisions.

He also regularly officiates in the midweek Youth League, and says: “These games are a good breeding ground for young referees as there is little trouble and the extra bonus of the games taking place under lights.”

James, who is in the Police Force, is 22 and officiates whenever he can, while dad Chris is involved in the same leagues as Alan, but also does Metaltec SIL games.

Taking his A levels at the Claydon/Thurleston Sixth Form Centre, Alan is hoping to go to university to qualify as a PE teacher.

He works on a supermarket check-out to earn some extra cash.

Tonight is not the first time the trio have been in action together. Dad Chris took the whistle in a match at Brantham Athletic.

There are not many families like the Dales around, and Daryl Butcher, referee's appointment secretary for the SIL, admits it is a problem covering every game each Saturday.

A referee for ten years and a former East Bergholt player, Daryl has been officiating on both Saturdays and Sundays for the last five seasons.

He said: “There are enough referees to go around, it is just getting them available on the same days.

“There are other things to do on wet winter Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings. People are not so committed as they were a few years ago.”

Unless you are a Dale that is.

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