Referees' Feature - Alan Boswell - Part 7

Alan, Dean and  Roy Boswell

Alan loves his role in the middle


Alan BoswellAlan Boswell is rightly regarded as one of the best referees in the Manderwood Pembrokeshire Association Football League, with his down-to-earth interpretation of the rules, ability to communicate well with players, and the effortless way he keeps up with play.
Alan is one of three brothers who has done such yeoman work with the whistle after playing his entire long career at Johnston, with older brother Dean and younger brother Roy also playing for the Tigers but having spells at Hook.

Part of footballing history - but a few disappointments en route

He was part of a little piece of footballing history as he and Dean were assistants in the Senior Cup Final, with Roy as referee, but more of that later.
Alan played in a good Johnston side which included his two brothers, Steve James, Steve Hayward, Russell Murray, Glyn Ruloff, Micky Algieri, Chris Walters, Richard James, Neil Lees and big John Codd, who was never afraid to let the rest know where they were going wrong!
He missed out on a Senior Cup Final though, after playing in all the earlier rounds, to slot in another defender – and missed out whenever The Tigers played in lower division finals, because he was usually cup-tied with the firsts. He still rankles over those points of his playing career!


Interesting start

He started out in reffing almost 21 years ago alongside Roy when players in the county were being asked to take the course offered by Pedr McMullen – and the Boswell boys did the six-week course since it gave them a chance to get out together for a quiet pint afterwards on Friday evenings!
Both were playing for Johnston at the time and when they lost through a last-minute goal against Carew they were relegated – and Alan decided that it was perhaps the right time, at 34, to start reffing.
His first match was a game between Thornton and St Florence where he kept getting too close to the ball and somewhat in the way of the players, especially at high balls, but once he learned to run different lines he took to out like a duck to water.
He’ll also remember his debut because wife Dyan dropped him and old chum Derek Jenkins off at the ground so she could have the car – and it was only after she had disappeared from view that Alan realised he had left his flags in the boot so the linesmen had to use towels instead!

First cup final a baptism of fire

Alan’s first cup final came along in 2001/02 when he was chosen to referee the under 16s cup final between Merlins Bridge and Herbrandston – and in  an eventful final there were two replays, also at Marble Hall before The Bridge won in extra time.
“There were no penalty shoot-outs in those days,” Alan told us, “and after two draws and extra time the third also went into extra time before the three Thomas boys in their side helped The Bridge score a last-minute goal.
“There was such uproar from the disappointed losers that I had to issue two red cards after the final whistle – and was something of a baptism of fire!”

Alan Boswell running line at Senior Cup final

More cup finals to follow . . .

Then he soon progressed through the grades and was delighted when he was chosen to officiate at the second division cup final between Solva and Milford Athletic at the Bridge Meadow Stadium, where the Athletic won 2-1, again in extra time, after Solva had dominated for long periods.
Since then Alan has officiated at all the other divisional finals from divisions three to five and was also honoured to referee the Jubilee Final in 2009/10 because they had previously stopped after Brian Hawkins officiated the 1998/99 final between Pennar Robins and Hakin United.

With the Senior Cup as the undoubted highlight!

It was an even greater thrill when he received the ultimate local accolade of refereeing the Senior Cup Final, involving Monkton Swifts and Pennar Robins, a local derby at the Bridge Meadow played in front of a big crowd.
Alan had a lovely day which started with lunch in the Bristol Trader with a number of his refereeing colleagues and a good match which he thoroughly enjoyed before the Robins won 2-0.
“I couldn’t believe how quickly this local derby went and it really is a great day for the referee as well as the players.”

Involved in a Boswell Boys family final

“The following season I was fourth official to Ian Baxter and I have been very lucky to have also been involved in three other finals as assistant referee, with one special one for us Boswell brothers.
“Dean and I were thrilled when we heard that Roy, who is 14 months younger than me, had been chosen to referee the 2009/10 final between Goodwick United and Merlins Bridge, and Dean and I had been picked to be his assistants.
“It was very much a family day because my wife Dyan was there, plus Roy’s wife Julie, and Dean’s wife Dawn, along with lots of kids, to make it another day the family will never forget.”

Steve Williams, Paul Jackson, Alan Boswell and Charles Davies

Lots of travel at Welsh League level . . . but felt let down by administrators

Alan also officiated at Welsh League matches for 16 years and has been on the line in the Welsh Premier League, which is another challenge in itself.
It is one area that has left him a little frustrated because he did well in his assessments on the Welsh League circuit without taking the middle at the highest level of Welsh Football.

“I travelled all over South Wales and in my second season I was told that I had accumulated top marks from the assessors at each match but that I wasn’t going to be promoted because the powers that be felt I lacked enough experience.
“So I kept doing one match as ref and one as assistant each month, the rest being in the Pembrokeshire League and showed real patience until I again received the best average mark from being assessed in matches – but was then told I wasn’t going to be promoted because they were looking to push younger refs forward.
“Even after my final match, which was at Briton Ferry, I was asked to reconsider by a well-known official from Swansea but that’s when I decided enough travel was enough and stepped back to ref locally full time!”

Still good moments to savour though

There were good moments, however, like joining Roy as assistant referees at a women’s international between Wales and England at Briton Ferry – and he admits that he was surprised about how skilful both teams were.
Then there was a West Wales Cup semi-final at Garden Village, where Dafen Welfare beat Kilvey Ford before going on to win the final – and both sets of supporters were ever-ready to give stick if decisions went against their teams.

“But I never minded that,” said Dean, because it’s amazing how artful deaf you can be when the occasion arises!”

And finally . . .

Ask him about carrying on and his answer is to the point:
“I’ll do it for as long as I know that I am able to keep up with play and make sound decisions. I’ll know when it is time for me to give up, without anyone else having to tell me!”
As for ambitions, they are equally as clear:

“I just want to carry on being involved as a referee in local football because at 55 years old I really enjoy still being involved – anything else would be a real bonus!”
Ask players around the county about Alan and it is likely they would say that he is their sort of referee – because he is confident in his ability, quick about the field and ready to talk players out of hasty actions.
We have seen Alan Boswell referee matches on many occasions and we can safely say that he is still certainly one of the top officials in the county – and long may he give up his time and energy for the good of Pembrokeshire Football!

Dave Badger, Alan Boswell and Gareth Elliott