As the football season grinds to a close and the final whistle is blown on that rollercoaster ride of promotion and relegation my mind floods back to some of the happiest days of my young life playing the amateur game.

I hung up my boots a long time ago but I still cherish a floodgate of memories forging lifelong friendships with team mates and parents on the touchline.

How times have changed. There was total discipline during the game in my time but sadly at grassroots level today referees are intimidated and threatened verbally and physically on park pitches at weekends the length and breadth of the country.

At Premier League level, officials have some protection but in local leagues they have none. No wonder it is haemorrhaging referees. Without referees, which is a thankless task, the game is finished.

In a recent survey by Radio 5 98 per cent of refs at grassroots level confirmed they had experienced verbal abuse from players, coaches and supporters.

It is a further indictment of the situation that the FA as a level of protection has introduced a trial period where officials will wear cameras during a match.

One way of solving the problem is to take a leaf from the world of rugby where only the captains are permitted to consult the ref. Whilst admittedly the professional game fails to set an example I am not a believer that they should be role models for our children. Like many of society’s problems that job is for the parents.

Jim Oldcorn