A Yellow Card For A Salthill Mum

Updated: December 3, 2013
Blog on a mom's first memories of Drom.

A Salthill Mum’s memories of Drom

by Marie Howard

I can’t remember when I first realised that I actually looked forward to visiting Drom.

At the time we only had two children, both boys. Two more would come later, one of them a girl. They would all play for Salthill Devon.

I suppose there was something about the  bumpy drive over there from Knocknacarra, the swing into that long driveway  and the open pitches with kids everywhere… that just seemed to relax me. Also the cup of tea on the balcony while I watched the coaches run the legs off my lads was a luxury afforded so few mothers  on the side of football pitches all over Ireland.

OK I admit it, it was the comfort I was after. I’d been in too many draughty halls watching them being kickboxed to death, learning basketball from the latest American to come to work at Boston Scientific or NUIG or somewhere and all the rest of it. Never understood that game.  At Drom, I could watch them learning, enjoyed some of the mazy drills the coaches put them through and I could even feign interest in football. Far more civilised.

I stay up on the balcony all the time watching them. Never go down to the pitch, even when they’re playing a match and there’s a reason for that.

“Those who can, play,” he would say, “those who can’t, referee.”

Who Knew?

Who knew I would become one of them? The mothers I hate. I called them The crazy Mothers. The anorak-muffled, scarf-bedecked madwomen who line the side of pitches all over this benighted country each weekend, screaming encouragement at their kids and disparagement at the other kids. Who knew my lads would actually get better at this crack and coaches would pick them to play for the club? It was a mother’s duty to encourage her children wasn’t it?

At least it started as encouragement, quickly descended into comment on the bad tackle of one of the pups from the opposing side, gradually grew into discomfort with the referee and eventually manifested itself in downright abuse, hurled through the crisp Saturday-morning winter air at the gobshite in black.

That was always my opening line when I teamed up with the other parents on the sideline:

“Who’s the gobshite in black today?”

My husband played here at Salthill Devon in the good old days. They won the Connacht-Senior-something-or-other and the Anthony Ryan Cup or something. He had a theory about referees:

“Those who can, play,” he would say, “those who can’t, referee.”

I could see his point.

Without exception all of the referees looked ridiculous in those silly black outfits. They were invariably small, pudgy little men with togs and jersies far too big for them and the most ridiculous-looking black runners. I could never imagine any of them ever playing the game. They looked so…ungainly.

That was why, after one game which saw our team (the team with my two lads in it) hammered by Galway Hibernians under 10s by three goals to nil, the referee trotted over in my direction and fixed me with a less-than-impressed raised eyebrow stare.

“Bejayzus Marie,” he said, “I remember when you were a nice quiet woman. I have a yellow card for you.”

Then he gave a knowing grin–you know, that grin-turned on his heels and walked off in his big billowing black shirt and baggy shorts. It took a minute but gradually my cheeks started to burn and my hand went to my mouth as I realised…it was him.

Older, pudgier, definitely not as good-looking but it was him. He was a referee–and a pretty poor one at that.

I was mortified.

And it was he who gave the document to Stephen McSpadden in the office. Stephen handed it to me when I came in to collect the lads, he knows everybody. He has a quiet way about him Stephen.

He Said: “The ref left this for you, said he knew you.”

I thanked him and tried to stop blushing. I didn’t look at the document until I got home with the two lads. I kept it. Still have it. Here it is:


All parents should read this.

And that’s why I don’t go down pitchside now, I stay in the clubhouse, drink tea and say very little. Better that way.

And no, I’m not going to tell you about that ref. Mind your own business.

One yellow card is enough.


  1. centrehalf

    February 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks Antonio. Silent Weekend a great idea.

    • Antonio Mantero

      February 12, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      The pressure on kids to perform whilst adults scream 5/6 different instructions (mostly negative) at them is absolutely crazy. In any other walk of like this would not be tolerated but yet we allow it to happen during recreational time. To quote a fellow coach, ‘Many now think that learning only happens in an adult constructed environment and the crazy thing is, children are starting to believe this.’ My message is back off and ‘let the kids play’

  2. Antonio Mantero

    February 12, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Great read. Please support the Silent Sideline Weekend March 29 & 30 http://www.thecoachdiary.com/shhhhhh-just-let-them-play-silent-sideline/

  3. Pete Kelly

    January 27, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    This is great – we need more like this

  4. centrehalf

    January 27, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Well you are a fairly tough tackler Marie…

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