Referees' Feature - David Badger - Part 6

David Badger - Intermediate Cup Final 2015 

David does a great job in the middle of Pembrokeshire Football!

David Badger came to Pembrokeshire 14 years ago and in the intervening years has become one of the most respected football referees in the Pembrokeshire League who has also officiated ‘up the line’ with his quiet, firm control and ability to take players with him in terms of decision-making.

He has settled in to local football really well, has officiated in both the Pembrokeshire Senior Cup and West Wales Intermediate Cup Finals, has become Hon Secretary of the Pembrokeshire Referees’ Society and is full of praise for the warm reception he has received from players, officials and fellow referees alike.

Family matters

He had first visited this county as far back as 1976 when he came on holiday with his parents and they all loved it so visited as often as they could. He and his wife Lesley were always keen to live here and finally took the plunge and moved down in 2006 when their children were in various stages of their education. Sally moved to London with work, Jack went to Pembrokeshire College and Rosie attended Bush School.  They have never regretted their move to Freshwater East where they became near neighbours to sports lovers Gill and John Donnachie.

“Lesley isn’t over-keen on sport but has given me total support whenever I’ve been involved in matches. Still on the family front with regard to children, Lesley is a Ceramic Artist, whilst Sally is involved with the Arts and Theatre in London. Jack used to play football but is more keen on surfing now;  Rosie works as a Zoo Keeper at Folly Farm and over the last two years completed the Long Course Weekend and Wales Iron Man in Tenby.”

Starting out as a referee

David BadgerLike a lot of youngsters in school Dave had an active sporting life where he not only played football but took part in badminton and table tennis, alongside some golf. He also played football in his late teens and in college but then work and family commitments limited involvement until he returned to action when he was 38 and played in defence for a works team in the Midland Combination League.

“I suppose it was on a par with our first division in Pembrokeshire,” David told us, “and I had three enjoyable seasons there. I also coached a junior team in which Jack played and when they didn’t have a match official I often took on the role of referee and enjoyed it.

“When Jack finished playing I decided that refereeing was for me and so I took the course and for my last two years in The Midlands I reffed in the Rugby and District League, which took place on Sundays.

Joining the Pembrokeshire whistlers . . . and getting involved with the Referees’ Society

Then the Badger family finally achieved their aim to settle here and after commuting back and fore to Solihull for four months in his job with a pet food wholesaler he got a similar job covering Wales and The Borders – and has no regrets about the move – or his decision to continue with refereeing here
“I was immediately made to feel very welcome and I have been involved with the Pembrokeshire Referees’ Society ever since, which does a great job in encouraging newcomers, especially youngsters, who want to take part.

“I have been the Hon Secretary for almost a decade now and it is a great social mix where the monthly meetings allow a smashing forum for everyone to discuss matters that have arisen in matches and to share experiences.

“There are great characters like Danny Thomas, the president, Pedr McMullen, who sadly isn’t well now but has taken courses for newcomers for many years, Graham Sheppard, Brian Hawkins (now the league secretary) and Keith Scourfield (the former treasurer).

“The whole ethos of the society is perhaps best summed up by the tradition that as many referees as possible turn up on Senior Cup Final day to share brunch with the official for that day and his assistant refs and the fourth official.”

Dave enjoyed his big day at The Bridge Meadow Stadium . . .

Dave had his first taste of involvement with The Senior Cup Final in 2007/8 when he ran the line for Alan Boswell and he was awarded the match referee’s role in 2010/11 when Hakin United beat Haverfordwest County 4-1 at the Bridge Meadow Stadium.

“The day started well at the pre-match brunch with my assistants Sean O’Connor and Jeff Hurton, plus fourth official Ian Baxter and loads of others who came along, as well as Gordon Thomas and Bill Carne from the local press.

“The match itself was very enjoyable but a bit one-sided thanks to the goal-scoring of Nicky Woodrow, who scored a hat-trick – and I enjoyed a few pints afterwards with some of the referees.”

. . . And at The Liberty Stadium too!

If that match was easy to officiate then his taking charge of the 2015 West Wales Intermediate Cup Final was even more one-sided as Swansea University created a record with a 10-0 win over Ystradgynlais.

“I felt really honoured to be chosen as referee and there was another Pembrokeshire connection as Charles Davies was my fourth official.

“It was fairly straightforward but at 8-0 there was a penalty for the students and in his after-match comments David Rees, the West Wales Referees’ Officer, said he might have sent off the offending goalkeeper – and the wicked side of my humour did wonder if the goalie might have been glad of a break!”

Welsh League stuff

Dave has also been involved as an official in Welsh League football, travelling all over South Wales with the likes of Tom Bevan in the JD Cymru (South) League.

“At 59 I decided that in this area I would take on the role of a specialist assistant referee and after being invited to take the fitness test I got down to some extra training in the current pandemic by running on the nearby Freshwater East beach – and so I was delighted to pass the test – not bad going at my age!

Other big moments

As well as the senior cup final, Dave has also been referee in the 2009/10 Third Division Cup Final, where Hakin United 2nds beat their counterparts from Goodwick United at The Bridge Meadow Stadium, and the Fourth Division Cup Final, where St Ishmaels 2nds edged home against Herbrandston 2nds.

“That was played at Monkton Swifts and being a local derby there was a very big and partisan crowd, which added to the excitement as Tish got through by 5-4 in a game where the result was in doubt until my final whistle.

And finally . . .

Ask Dave about when he might step down from his part in the game and his quiet chuckle comes into force.
“We’ve mentioned some of the undoubted highlights and I count myself lucky to have been involved in them but to be honest it is the anticipation during the week and the taking part in a match on a Saturday that counts for me, in whatever part of the county I travel to.

“There have been odd moments during very rare games when I’ve asked myself why was I there but they have been very few and far between.

“It is great to be part of Pembrokeshire Football and I will continue as long as I am still enjoying it and know that I am fit enough to do my best – and I would urge other ex-footballers, or those struggling along as players, to take up the whistle because it really is brilliant to take part!”

Sion Jenkins, David Badger and Gareth Elliott