LOVING IT Referee Paul Lydon
WHEN the idea of becoming a referee was first suggested to Paul Lydon, a member of the famous footballing family from Kiltimagh, he couldn’t help but laugh.
“The County Board Chairman at the time, Paddy McNicholas, asked me to referee and I started laughing,” Lydon recalled to The Mayo News last week. “I wasn’t the most polite man when I was playing, so I thought there was no way I would pick up the whistle.”
But the more he thought about, the more it appealed to him. An injury had cut his playing-career short, so it seemed to be an ideal way of getting back involved in the game.
And the 34-year-old hasn’t looked back.
“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done,” he said. “I’m surprised more people my age aren’t getting involved in it because it’s a brilliant way of being involved, great for fitness, and you meet some great friends.”
Lydon is now in his fourth year of officiating and has already progressed on to the National League panel.
He explains that his style of refereeing is to ‘let it flow’, and says the most important advice for anyone considering the job is to take ‘a level-headed view’ of the game at all times.
“I don’t like blowing the whistle too often,” he said. “I like to let the game flow; I don’t mind good hard hits as long as they are fair.
“As a referee, you have to see both sides. Players and managers will only see their own side, so refs have to be open and fair to both teams to give them an equal opportunity.”
One of seven children in the Lydon household, Paul says the biggest challenge while refereeing is ‘when players and managers don’t know the rules fully’ and he joked about the importance of ‘blocking out the supporters’.
He is aware though that the current structures put in place by Croke Park have made the possibility of getting to the top of the refereeing game much more realistic than it used to be.
Plus, to top it all off, there’s a monetary reward!
“I’m hoping to go as far as I can with it,” he said. “Right now my goal would be to progress to an All-Ireland final at some age in Croke Park.
“And it’s a nice added bonus when you get a a few pound at Christmas too!” he laughed.