Hengrove Athletic Reserves and Westfield FC gave referee, Ian Madge, a warm welcome on to the pitch ahead of his 2000th game, applauding him onto the pitch from the dressing room.
Ian passed his referees exam in January of 1974 in Hertfordshire, moving to North Somerset two years later in 1976. This season is Ian’s 45th refereeing, spending 42 of those in the Somerset County League and the Weston-super-Mare & District League, keeping a database of his appointments.
Throughout his career, Ian has refereed on seven Somerset FA County Cup Finals;
• Intermediate Cup Final 1981/2 and 1989/9
• Junior Cup Final 1986/7 and 1996/7
• Senior Cup Final 1990/1
• Premier Cup Final 1992/3
• Durnford Cup Final 2005/6
In addition to refereeing in Grassroots football, Ian has also been an assistant referee in the Football League and also the Premier League between 1989 and 1996. At that time there was an age limit of 44 for assistant referees at that level.
Jon Pike, Chief Executive of Somerset FA said: “It is fantastic that a referee who has reached such a high level, assisting on the Football League and Premier League, has returned to so enthusiastically referee Grassroots Football matches in Somerset.”
Whilst working for AXA Sun Life, the organisation sponsored the FA Cup for a few seasons. As a perk of this sponsorship, staff were allowed to play and referee at the old Wembley Stadium. Ian’s claim to fame is that he has managed to referee a Cup Final, under floodlights that went to extra time at Wembley!
Ian recounted to Somerset FA's Marketing Officer, Conor Ogilvie-Davidson, that the most profound change that he has seen in the game was the introduction of Yellow and Red cards. Ian said: “I believe, that on occasions it has made it easier for referees to caution players that in turn has reduced the respect between players and match officials and a consequent breakdown in communication.”
Ian wished to pass on to new referees an assurance that they will make an abundance of correct decisions and inevitably a few incorrect ones too; but that they should always seek the advice of senior colleagues to talk through match situations. The genuine football friends that a referee makes through their career is a major reward for being the best match official you can be.
Referee Development Officer, Matt Eva, echoed the thoughts of Jon Pike, adding: "Ian’s dedication to refereeing over so many years is remarkable. He continues to serve the grassroots game with real passion, and his enthusiasm for helping develop younger referees has allowed others to benefit from his many years of experience. Reaching this milestone is a real achievement and we hope to see him out on the local parks for many more games in the future."
Tony Beaverstock, via Facebook, shared an amusing story where Ian had loosened his assistant referee flag before a match at Paulton Rovers. The flag then proceeded to fly off the handle when Tony gave his first offside with it landing on the pitch, leaving him "stood there like a dummy with just a pole in my hand!"
On behalf of Somerset FA, we’d like to congratulate Ian on his achievement and thank him for his contribution to the game in Somerset.
We also received several comments on Facebook relating to Ian's achievement:
David Callow: "Well done Ian, one of the good guys"
Mike Cairns: "Outstanding achievement. Well done to a true gentleman!"
David Gooding: "Congratulations on your achievement. Ian helped me immensely when I first started out refereeing"
Darren Down (oh behalf of Worle FC): Congratulations Ian what a fantastic achievement; top bloke as well."
Messages of congratulation were also received from: Geoff English, Kevin Johnson, Roger Lane, Barry Ingram, David Bryant, Savvas Yianni and David Braithwaite.