CHATTERIS Town are enjoying their first spell in the Cambs League Premier Division but manager Jimmy Unwin just wishes the referees’ assessors would stay away from their games.
Unwin feels his side have coped well with the promotion to the top flight with six wins and four draws from 13 league games so far but complained: “The biggest bugbear has been the referees and the assessors.
“If a referee is being assessed he seems to be a completely different person and just wants to hand out bookings and forget their people skills.
“In our latest game at Hardwick we had five booked and the only one deserved was for deliberate handball. There was not a bad tackle and even after the game the assessor agreed it was too many.
“Last season we had 17 bookings in 30 odd league and cup games and no sendings off.
“This season in the Premier Division, with more referees being assessed, we have already had 20 bookings and three sendings off.
“We have also had very good referees like Gerry Daish and he went through the game without a booking and Andy Clenshaw who was in charge of our cup game at Whittlesey which went into extra time.
“He was brilliant and spoke to the players telling them to shut up when it was needed, but there was no assessor present .
“We have a young side and they pay £5 subs every game and always stay for a couple of drinks home and away so if they get booked it is costing £20 per game and that is a lot of money to them especially when the booking is not justified.
“It would be so much better if the referees handled the games in the normal way without going out to impress.”
On the park Chatteris are sitting in eighth place in the table and are still involved in two cup competitions.
Unwin added: “The Premier is a lot stronger division than Senior A. There are a lot of good teams in the league and there no easy games.
“I think the top four or five sides could hold their own in the Ridgeons League as Cambridge University Press have proved this season
“I think we have coped really well and the young players have adapted well to the standard. Last season we enjoyed our fair share of luck on the way to winning Senior A but we have not enjoyed the same luck this season so far.
“The aim this season is to finish as high as possible and try and win some silverware in the cups. We have Over Sports in the last eight of the Cliff Bullen Cup.
“Next season if we can keep the squad together then the target has to be to try and win promotion to Ridgeons Division One which was the reason we switched to the Cambs League from the Peterborough League.
“I think had we stayed in the Peterborough League we would be in their Premier Division now but the standard is not as good as the Cambs League so I definitely think the right decision was made.”
Unwin has a very young squad of mostly local lads and two youngsters who have burst on the scene this season have been 16-year-old Aiden Hollis and 17-year-old Jack Saunders.
“Hollis came into the side when we had injuries but did so well in midfield he has kept his place in the squad. Saunders is a winger and was playing really well until a recent ankle injury which will keep him out for three weeks,” said Unwin.
Cambs FA Phil Mitcham commented: “In the Premier Division in 50 per cent of the games the referees are being assessed as it is a supply league. We do have clubs complaining that more bookings are being handed out in these games.
“The referees are keen to get promoted to the next level and at the same time do not want to be relegated to the Senior A division and below.”
Mitcham would not comment on whether the complaints are justified but unfortunately there is a lot of truth that referees under the spotlight are more likely to flash the yellow cards than on other occasions and clubs it would seem will have to live with that and make sure their players are also on their best behaviour.
Like the rest of the local sides the snow stopped Chatteris from playing at the weekend but Unwin has been able to continue the training indoors and the Lillies are hoping to be back in action against Great Shelford on Saturday at West Street.
Steven Reid will miss the game as he has a one-match ban for five cautions this season.
There were no games played in the Peterborough League at the weekend.