With time running down before kick-off, both managers show up at the Ref's door for a choc-stick, erm, I mean with their team sheets. Left is Bobby Robson, Ipswich who went on to manage England. Center is Gwyn Pierce Owen, Referee and 'Prifathro'
[Headmaster] at Llanddona on the Isle of Anglesey. At right is Birmingham
City manager Jim Smith.
Getting these three relaxed was an achievement and I think I accomplished it by telling 'em Blues were gonna win . . . hence the laughter.
I had just met Jim Smith and wanted to let him know I was a Blues fan, but it was met with a bit of anger from Robson who duly noted that fans are not allowed in the Referee's dressing room before a match . . . oh dear!
and so, to my
original Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald article . . . [keep scrolling for more pictures!]
'A Day in the Life of a Referee'
Special to the Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald by John Baker, Penrhyndeudraeth, Meirionydd
Gwyn Pierce Owen, headmaster of Llanddona Primary School Anglesey, is no ordinary headmaster. He is one of those special breeds of masochist who dares referee football matches in that cauldron of controversy, the Football League.
His weekend "hobby" demands that he travels the country, and such are the extremes that one week he could be refereeing at Hereford United, and the next, Manchester United.
So as not to interfere with his full-time occupation as headmaster, any weekday matches allocated to him are fairly "local", such as Chester, Wrexham, or Shrewsbury.
For this "Herald Special" I met Gwyn at the recent Birmingham City versus Ipswich game which had a distinct bearing on the top of the First Division Table.
OFF TO BRUMMAGEM
The round trip to St. Andrew's is over 200 miles from Gwyn's home near Beaumaris, but Gwyn is fortunate in having his close friend Vic Owen around to chauffeur him to the country's football stadiums.
When I arrived at the ground at 12.40 p.m., Vic was well into his steak and chips, courtesy of the club, but for Gwyn it was time to start work.
A day and a half of heavy rain had left the pitch pretty well sodden, but after a quick inspection Gwyn was able to declare the pitch playable as it was now drying fast. He was accompanied on the inspection by one of his linesman, Derek Capey from Stoke-on-Trent, who joined Gwyn and I in an exclusive lounge for tea and sandwiches. We were also joined by Gwyn's second linesman, John Ball from Leicester. Gwyn then returned to his dressing room and was visited by Hugh John whose TV company was covering the match, and is well known to us in Wales as a contributor to HTV's "Sports Arena".
A Football League rule stipulates that team sheets should be handed to the referee half an hour before a match, and thus the managers, Jim Smith of Birmingham City, and Bobby Robson of Ipswich arrived on cue and exchanged greetings, stories and jokes before departing to give last minute instructions to their teams.
At five to three the teams are out on the pitch loosening up and its time for Gwyn and his linesmen to join them.
On leaving their dressing room they pass the player's dressing rooms, and the Birmingham City boot room, where many a famous player has started his career with the most recent of them being Trevor Francis, now "on loan" to Nottingham Forest.
Then on past the gym to ascend a long corridor underneath the main stand . . . big enough to drive a bus down! This then forces them right at a "T" junction and delivers them onto the St. Andrews pitch where they are greeted by the customary boos, which all referees take with a pinch of salt.
Ipswich were a goal in front at the interval. From Gwyn's point of view the half was tidy and nobody had questioned any of his decisions.
The second half saw Ipswich collect two more goals and gain two valuable points in their quest for the league title, while Birmingham managed just one in reply.
The after-match inquests on television and in the Press did not query any of Gwyn's decisions which is compliment indeed to any referee. It is often said, "If a referee is not noticed then he has had a good game".
I'm sure everyone at Llanddona School will give him ten out of ten for that!