Michael’s story as ‘man in the middle’

Michael Hemstock has published a book about life as a referee
Michael Hemstock has published a book about life as a referee

Pensioner Michael Hemstock has put pen to paper to recall his life as a football referee.

The 68-year-old, from Newthorpe, wanted to share the ups and downs of life on the pitch – and plans to launch his book at Eastwood Library on Friday and Saturday, July 1 and 2.

He said: “It’s all about what happened to me as a referee. Some funny stories, some serious and some light-hearted.

“It initially came to me to put it all together when I was talking to a colleague. He said I should write a poem about it so I did. That was 25 years ago.”

Michael’s colleague later suggested he should write a book.

However, busy with work, he only got around to starting it in 2008 when he suffered a stroke and had some time to himself during his recovery.

Michael said: “I had time to reflect on the past.”

Michael was a referee between 1970 and 1985, officiating games in the semi-professional Midland League, and said he was “proud to represent his county”.

He used to referee at Eastwood and Kimberley Town games among others.

But Michael said he did not set out to become a referee like his father. He said it was all down to fate.

He said: “There was a football match going on just behind our backyard. I was taking my daughter out for a play when the secretary called me over.

“He said the referee was not official and the players were falling out about it, so he asked me to do it. So I had to take my daughter home and that was that.

“I felt exhilarated. Soon after I started refereeing for the Priory Celtic Under-11s team.”

Michael said there were many highlights during his time as a referee.

He said: “I refereed Eastwood Town in the semi-final of the Nottinghamshire Seniors Cup. I thought because I came from Eastwood I shouldn’t be doing an Eastwood Town game but they wrote to me and said I was picked because of my ability, which was lovely.”

The proud referee also got chosen by the Nottinghamshire Football Association to referee county school matches between Derbyshire and Leicestershire.

But the pensioner said the job also had its tough moments.

He said: “I once cautioned all 11 players on one team, and the final score was 11-0.

“Going into the changing room at the end of the game I got a lot of abuse.

“On another occasion I sent somebody off and his friend was drunk and didn’t take to it very well. 
“At the end of the match the players had to surround me to protect me from him, and as I was walking home he drove at me in his car.

“I had to jump over a bank to get away from him.”

He was also part of the Nottinghamshire FA referee training team between 1980 and 2005.

He said: “Hopefully there are one or two things in the book that will spur on new referees and help them to learn how to handle players. I talk about ways to calm them down and the best way to speak to them, the ways to let them know that you are the boss and it’s your opinion that counts.”

The poem that Michael initially wrote, ‘Ode to a Referee’, features in his book.