Name: Colin Burnikell
Age: 61 Years
Refereeing Level: Level 10
Began Refereeing: October 1974
How where you introduced into refereeing?
Whilst being a voluntary youth leader (senior member) at Grindon Boys Club, I frequently organised five a side football and refereed the games. A youth leader (Ron Brewis) who was a Football League linesman at the time encouraged me to take part in the referees course. I duly obliged and from there on had an enjoyable and eventful career as a referee.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
There have been a good number of highlights, attaining Class One status is one but being honest, I would have to say that meeting some great friends and colleagues over the years and having a real good laugh on match days is another. Refereeing on the Northern League and being a linesman (as we were then) on the Panel Leagues is high on the list but being associated with a great branch of the Referees Association for 44 years is very dear to me.
What is the biggest game you have officiated and why?
One that comes to mind is being appointed to an All England Sunday Cup semi-final. This is purely so, as pre-match preparation went out the window as the weather conditions were bad (heavy snow in Sunderland) and the car in which I was travelling with the two linesmen left the road before we had even left Sunderland. The game itself was eventful with a very slight covering of snow on the pitch (Blyth Spartans ground) one sent off and three cautions and the visiting team (from Wolverhampton) manager didn’t think the game should be played. His team won 3-1 (I think) and after the game he was still adamant the game shouldn’t have been played. The reception we received after the game and in the club house was amazing (truthfully) handshakes and standing ovation for the three match officials – I have to confess that it was justified. I also took over from the match referee in a Pontins League game Newcastle Utd v Port Vale and got an encouraging assessment from the late Pat Partridge.
What are your aims and ambitions as a referee?
While I was an active referee, my ambition was to be promoted onto the Football League Linesmen’s list. Unfortunately this didn’t happen for whatever reason despite thinking I was good enough. As I am no longer active my ambition is to keep on going and maintain – even improve on the high standards at Sunderland RA as it’s Secretary.
What/Who has been the biggest influence on your career and why?
Unfortunately at the time, referees didn’t have the ‘support’ that is available these days, in a sense we had to just ‘get on with it’. However probably the main influence was always to just go out and do your best and don’t take anything for granted i.e. that you were at a particular level and certain to go further up the refereeing ladder – it can be a cruel game in some cases.
In your opinion who is / was the best referee?
Throughout my 44 years, I have seen many top class referees at local and national levels. I could mention a lot but some who immediately come to mind are Pier Luigi Collina, George Courtney, George Tyson, Pat Partridge & Roger Dilkes. There were some characters as well such as Clive Thomas, Peter Willis and the late John Key. We have a number of good referees at the top level in this country and it would be unfair to mention them in fear of upsetting others. I sincerely hope that our current Chairman can reach the next level (Select Group One) as I have a great deal of confidence in his ability.
Accurate as of March 2018