Report by Aaron Jackson
The Evo-Sik NPL was declared a flagship league for the FA in their Respect campaign at a fair-play seminar held at Lancaster City’s ground Giant Axe.
The unique meeting, one which officials hope will be used as a template across the divisions, chaired by the league’s respect manager and a FA Respect Ambassador Phil Bradley saw three speakers highlight how important the issue is to them.
Paul Kettlewell, a level three referee who has run the line at Championship level, Jerry North, the Director of Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce and Lancaster City FC manager Tony Hesketh joined Bradley and Eddie Wolstenholme from the Lancashire FA in praising the leagues’ and indeed the club in their roles in the Respect campaign.
Bradley said, “The Evo-Stik NPL should be used by the FA as a flagship league in their Respect campaign and as last season’s Fair-play league winner Lancaster City are the flagship club.
They are also one of many examples of Fair-play going alongside success on the pitch. We have seen teams being promoted from the league - Boston United, FC Halifax Town and Colwyn Bay - who did so finishing high in the Fair-play leagues.”
After trundling through the requisite jokes about referee’s eyesight and lack of footballing knowledge Dolly Blue manager Hesketh showed his true colours when talking about he deals with referees and his players.
He said, “Ten minutes of our pre-match preparation will be spent talking about Respect and me and my Assistant, Phil Brown, ensure we set the example with polite behaviour in the technical area.
"We do not accept poor conduct and after our captain was sent-off against Ossett Town- for a bit of handbags- we not only fined him two weeks wages, stripped him of the captaincy and dropped him for the next game but we warned all the players that anyone else repeating his conduct would simply leave the club.”
All parties were in favour of a regular post-match meeting between the referee, his assistants and managers to, in a calm manner it must be added, review incidents.
Hesketh said, “Phil and I had a very constructive chat twenty minutes after the game in a fixture earlier this season with a referee’s assessor where he went over decisions with us, we’d love to be able to do that with referees as it enables us to see that further discussion and debate would take place.”
Bradley added in conclusion to the seminar, “It is vitally important, and I know that it is currently not the case, that all clubs adhere and support the Respect campaign if we are to move forward.”