You can imagine my surprise when I arrived at Mill Lane for Monday night’s League Cup final and saw John Chalk named as one of the referee’s assistants.
If you’re wondering why I was a little bemused, please turn to the back page of this week’s paper.
For those of you who have heard about the bizarre incident during the Scalby v Filey Town Reserves game at Carr Lane last week, you’ll have appreciated the stunned look that was etched on my face.
Before I delve any deeper into this, I have to say I have nothing against John Chalk.
In fact, quite the opposite.
As a young player new to senior football with Scalby, I used to enjoy my games against John.
A funny, witty character who always gave his all but never went over the top with his tackling.
This transferred into my dealings with John in a professional capacity when I first started covering local football for the paper.
He was always full of enthusiasm for the local game and always had time to help out.
Having said that, his actions, whether provoked or not, in last week’s game, were inexcusable.
You very rarely hear of players physically confronting referee. They always have the book thrown at them, and rightly so.
It is a very tough job to referee at the grassroots level and I can appreciate first hand that they don’t exactly get a smooth ride when they don their whistle and take to the pitch.
This incident has already been handled terribly.
John will be the first to admit that he will accept the punishment coming his way.
He told me that this incident has made him ‘sick to the stomach’ when I spoke to him this week to get his version.
The fact that John took charge of Whitby Fishermen’s Society v Filey Town in division one on Saturday and was then allowed to run the line at the league’s showpiece final, the League Cup, on Monday, is just plain wrong.
What example does that set to the trio of young officials who joined Chalk at Mill Lane on Monday?
Referee George Roberts, assistant Alex Wyatt and fourth official Perrie Bunton will have heard about last week’s incident and the fact John wasn’t withdrawn from the prestigious cup final just looks very bad.
John should have been temporarily suspended pending the ongoing investigation, not handed a key fixture in division one and then a role in a cup final.
It’s a shame that John will no doubt be handed a lengthy ban by the North Riding FA.
There is a shortage of good referees everywhere and John was one of the approachable, decent refs.
But the FA will no doubt have to make an example of him in the opposite manner the Saturday League did.
It will be interesting to see what course of action the FA takes now.
I have to end by singing the praises of Roberts, who handled the large amounts of verbal abuse he received on Monday night very well.
For such a young lad, he seems to have a mature head on his shoulders and will do well if he keeps progressing.