An 88-year-old referee has told talkSPORT now is the time to go official as he hangs up his whistle after a glorious 70-year career as Diego Maradona’s referee.
Terry Farley’s officiating adventure began in 1952 and continues to this day, with his last game in late January.
Speaking to Hawksbee and Jacobs, the refereeing legend spoke of a career that spans seven decades and countries across Europe.
The veteran also explained why now is as good a time as any to become a referee and how he still maintains peak physical shape to this day.
“On January 4, 1952, I took my first refereeing exam at the headquarters of the Durham Football Association,” Farley explained.
“So on January 4, 2022, I had completed 70 years as a County Durham referee, so I thought to myself, ‘Well, at 88, it’s time to hang up the whistle after 70 years of a career that has given me enormous pleasure. ‘
“[The game has] changed a lot, I started at the base and worked my way up and in 1965 I got an invitation from the Football League at the time to become a linesman.
“Again I progressed to being on the Football League referee list which saw me refereeing Manchester, Liverpool etc.
“I ran over the line twice at Hampden Park when Scotland played Peru and Scotland played Argentina and that’s when Maradona’s name hit the headlines and we realized what a wonderful player he was.
“I ran the line at Wembley in the Charity Shield, I ran the line at Barcelona and Juventus.”
After a frankly incredible career in the game, Farley is in as good a position as anyone to judge the current state of affairs in the game.
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) had changed refereeing irreversibly, with the International Football Association Board writing the change in the rules of the game in 2018, before the Premier League signed up for the 2019/20 season .
Farley recalls that back when highlights were televised, there was a lot less scrutiny.
“Back when I was refereeing in the Football League we had match of the day and ITV also made a place but of course now every Premier League game is analysed, VAR takes over at certain occasions, so it has evolved over the years.”
Farley also believes the abuse directed at referees has only gotten worse since he started.
“It’s a big deal,” he said. “Again, going back to when I was a referee in youth football, which was quite strong at the time, in general respect for the touchlines and respect for the players was good.
“But the amount of abuse referees are experiencing these days is truly unacceptable, both on and off the pitch I’m afraid, it’s also at grassroots level.”
Many will wonder how the octogenarian is still doing, and he revealed that he tries to maintain his fitness as much as he did when he started.
“I’ve always been fit, played football for school, was a pretty good cross-country runner, played squash, cricket, etc.” he declares. “I go to the gym four times a week now, I’m pretty fit, really.
“I wasn’t one to stand in the center circle, I was proud of my fitness, obviously at 88 you’re not as fit as you used to be.
“I have a game coming up in a week on Sunday at Durham University which will be the last, and Tyne Tees Television will also come out to cover me and that will be the last game.”
Many are put off by the abuse and scrutiny referees are subjected to in the modern game, but Farley has a clear message for anyone looking to kick-start a career.
“In my opinion, there has never been a better time to be a referee, because in my time you were practically on your own,” he said.
“Now you have coaches, mentors and observers, so if you want to be a referee, now is the time.”
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