Keith shows his refereeing knowledge to Pembrokeshire Refs

Keith Burge at refs meeting

Members of the Pembrokeshire Referees' Society were treated to a special guest speaker at their monthly meeting when former top referee Keith Burge travelled down from Tonypandy, in the Rhondda Valley, to tell them about his career in the middle over a long period - and to answer questions about aspects of the game as the man in the middle.
He was invited to speak by Charles Davies, the current chairman of the Pembrokeshire Referees' Society, at a game at The Liberty Stadium, and readily agreed to bring his knowledge, experience and some lovely anecdotes to the Cricket Club in Haverfordwest.

Last Welsh official in English Premier League

Burge can lay claim to the fact that he was the very last Welsh official to referee in the English set-up as well as in Wales, and was still regularly involved in the English Premiership League until he retired in 1992, with his final match being a 2-1 win for Manchester United over Aston Villa at Old Trafford.
But it wasn't his final match because a short while afterwards he rounded off a distinguished career with his third Welsh Cup Final, this time at Penydarren Park, Merthyr - and also took charge of three Carling Cup semi-finals as Manchester beat Sheffield United, Crystal Palace entertained Liverpool and Aston Villa took on Liverpool.

Pleased the local ladies – but not their menfolk!

There wasn't so much football on TV those days and so there was lots of excitement about the Crystal Palace and Liverpool tussle, where heavy rain for four hours forced him to call the match off with 45 minutes to go, a decision accepted by both teams but disappointed the TV officials who were putting the match out live.
Also fed up were some of the folk back in Tonypandy as women stopped him in the street to say thanks because they were able to watch a film - whilst the fellers cursed him for robbing them of their treat!

Started early as a referee

On the playing front Keith was involved at under 16 and under 18 levels before deciding that he wanted to take up the whistle - and had three years moving through from C grade to A grade, where another top Welsh referee, the late John Gow, assessed him and wrote,
"This man is capable of refereeing at a higher levels and the next season saw Keith join the English League, which then had four divisions and the Vauxhall League below that, after going for interview at Lytham St Anne's, the headquarters near Blackpool, and being one of three successful candidates out of seven.
Then came that memorable time when The Premiership was announced and Keith was delighted to be one of 23 officials chosen out of 70 refs to be placed on the list and if the demands had been heavy before there was nothing to compare as they were assessed on a match to match basis and had two strenuous fitness tests each season.
Burge also reffed European matches in 15 countries and recalled a game in Turkey where about 20,000 partisan Besiktas fans were waving their flags and setting off firecrackers outside the ground two hours before the game started - and another special memory relates to taking charge of a European Under 21 Cup match between Spain and Italy.

How some banter can pay off - and fascinating discussion with local refs

His fascinating talk  also included an Arsenal v Aston Villa tussle where Ian Wright and Alan Wright were on the respective sides and were involved in an altercation - so he pulled them together and told them "Two Wrights don't make a wrong" and they burst out laughing and behaved themselves afterwards!
After a deserved break Keith then answered questions from local referees on issues like management of the players in disciplinary matters; positions to be taken in different circumstances at set-pieces, and how to use some banter to relieve pressure at key times.
It all added up to a thoroughly enjoyable and informative evening before Keith Burge made the long journey home with Huw Jones, the current secretary of Welsh League club AFC Porth, as his chauffeur!