The assistant referees, better known as linesmen, normally love to stay away from attention or the camera during games – but it doesn’t appear that one Hitchin Sunday League official cares about that unwritten rule.
The Hitchin Sunday Football League is an amateur football league in England, where matches are played on Sunday. It is filled with non-professional footballers consisting of teams financed mostly by regular people. However, they do get some help from the Football Association (FA), which also includes helping provide referees and other officials.
Them stylish boots
Normally, you would not at all expect a Sunday League referee to ever go viral because of how low-key the league itself is. However, one official appeared to be intent on doing something so out-of-the-box that he’s managed to attract attention from a lot of fans on Twitter.
Recently, an English social media influencer Jack Woods – who also plays for a Sunday League side Colney Heath FC (who were founded in 1907 in an East Sussex village Hartfield). Woods, like most of the Sunday League players, is a non-professional who just participates for the club that is around the area he is around from.
In a recent game between Colney Heath and Northwood FC, Woods posted a few pictures of the outlandish attire that a Sunday league referee wore to his game. It was actually the fourth official and not the main referee, who can be seen wearing Balenciaga boots that have the shoelaces tied from around the ankle.
Of course, referees in this league aren’t paid as handsomely as the ones that officiate matches in the Premier League or other qualified English football leagues. In fact, the pay is so low that the league was left in a major crisis in terms of referees in 2021 when Covid-19 pandemic threatened to put to it an end.
A spokesperson for the league even hinted that the league could shut down in a few years if unable to recruit new referees to officiate all the matches. Due to matches in the Sunday League taking place on weekends, a lot of matches are often held on the same day with the same kick-off time. The spokesperson for the league even urged non-qualified referees to take courses with them to be qualified enough to do the job.
Well, it appears that this one Sunday League referee that goes by the name of ‘Marco’ has been officiating games across this division for many years. He appears to be quite popular by those who take part or avidly follow the Sunday League, with fans noting his quirky style of officiating despite actually getting decisions wrong and making mistakes quite regularly.
It also appears that Marco has always shown a knack for showing off and standing out from the rest of the Sunday League referees. Some have also noted that a few years ago, the official used to often turn up to matches in a Ferrari and personally hand out money to the Man of the Match after matches in the past to help them, because at this level those players hardly get much reward for their heroics.
It’s quite clear that Marco must be doing the refereeing work as a side hustle and as a passion rather than this being his profession. He seems to be quite well-off in his personal life and that has allowed him to don these interesting Balenciaga boots to set a new fashion trend in the Sunday League.
How fans reacted to Marco’s unique attire
He wore the Balenciaga ‘Soccer Sneakers’ that was first released in 2020. The sneakers are a tribute to the traditional football bots, having a similar old-school design and a bit of a rugged look to it as well. The sneakers were first released in September, 2020 for approximately $660, but the current retail price of it has dropped to around $573.
For a professional footballer (or referee) that is probably nothing because most of their boots are anyhow sponsored by manufacturers. While Sunday League referees are given complimentary kits by Nike, the boots are not really that fancy – which is probably why Marco wore these to the game between Colney Heath and Northwood FC.
Fans are mostly split on their reactions, with a lot loving the fashion statement that the official is tying to put out – while others are unimpressed by the looks of the boots and the way he’s tied it around his ankle. Marco, for one, doesn’t look like one to care and is probably going to entertain Sunday League fans with similar antics with years to come.