Viewpoint from Keith Morris for 31st January 2014
Editor of www.networknorfolk.co.uk /www.networkyarmouth.co.uk
Trustee of Norwich Vineyard Church
News that Norfolk assistant referee Darren Cann has been selected to officiate at this summer’s World Cup Finals in Brazil alongside referee Howard Webb has struck a particular chord with me.
Ever since I first came to Norfolk 24 years ago I have been involved in football, a game which, my wife will quickly tell you, I have a raging passion for.
Living near King’s Lynn, I needed to find a team in West Norfolk and my modus operandi was to find the team at the bottom of the lowest league and turn up to watch a game. My hope was that they would be so desperate for new players that they would take me on – and it worked a treat.
Hence I joined the Magdalen village team and took my place in defence, in midfield, in fact anywhere but in goal.
I scored the odd screamer and put in lots of last-ditch tackles, but their results did not improve much.
When I moved to Norwich three years later, I adopted the same cunning strategy to find a new team, only this time I picked the Norfolk Christian Football League and its rock bottom team, from Thorpe Community Church.
The ploy worked like a dream and they signed me up – again with no appreciable upturn in results.
But not only did I sign up for the football team, I also signed up for the church which ran it – a church which 21 years later I still attend, even though it has now long changed its name to Norwich Vineyard.
In those 21 years, I have played for three different teams in the Christian league and helped to set up and run a junior side from under 10 to under 18 level, until two years ago that is when my son, and star striker, Tom left to go to university.
Then - too old to play and having satisfied my managerial ambitions with a league and cup win - I took the fateful decision to become the ”man in black”.
I took the short course to become a qualified football referee and have not looked back since, appearing on local parks across much of Norfolk - I absolutely love it.
I have refereed in half a dozen different leagues and officiated in cup finals and title deciders – this season I am also going for promotion to officiate at a slightly higher level.
I know how important having a decent referee, who understands the game, makes to a football match and one of my two main motivations is to help other players take as much enjoyment from the game as I have over the years.
My second motivation is the same as that of the Norfolk Christian Football League, whose mission statement is - Connecting Church to Community Through Football.
My hope is that this comes through in the way I played, ran teams and now manage games.
It also combines two of my great passions in life – football and my faith in God.