Skip to content

Derek Redfern

My Journey

Well, who would have thought it? My journey, in athletics’ officiating began in 1974 when as a young and naive probationary school teacher in their first term in a Secondary School P.E. Dept’. I saw, in the weekly authority news letter there was to be a chance to attend a course on, “How to officiate in athletics”. It was going to be held in the Spring term, and I thought that it would be a good idea to attend, the school did athletics in the summer term and held a Sports Day, I didn’t want to look a fool on Sports Day, so “ be prepared” is a good motto to hold.

So not knowing much about athletic competitions, apart from the school competitions I had taken part in, I attended the course with another P.E teacher. I am sure it lasted 4 Friday evenings and there was an “exam” at the end!  So I was now a level 4.

Later that year, in time for the summer meetings a large envelope arrived at my home advertising the meetings in the Midlands and asking if you could be available to officiate. At this time I had no association with a club and if this collection of league meetings had not arrived, from the leaders of the course, I probably would have only officiated at school events.

Little did I know then that the people I met then would become my mentors, as we now call them. They helped me develop the skills needed and develop the qualities of an official. They also kept me up to date with new ways of thinking and working patterns, continuing personal development opportunities too.

Back then upgrading was based upon having a number of years of experience at a level and a report was needed. Who wrote my reports I have no clue they were written by someone on the team. I must say thank you to them if they read this for what they did.

To achieve the highest level of grading officials were “invited” to take the 3 hour, written exam I took mine in Dudley Town Hall.

I do remember officiating at a number of meetings, wearing the obligatory white shirt, white trousers, white shoes, tie, and blazer.  How times have changed. I was lucky to live in an area that was close enough to Birmingham where many high level events were held.

As I have got older I have had the opportunity to develop a number of skills in athletics. I have always had an interest in the facilities side of athletics and became a “track inspector” a position that is no longer valid and was replaced by our new system. Through this role I gained greater knowledge of the rule book, in the rules beyond those needed to officiate the events.

Today I am a tutor for the level 1 course. I really enjoy this side of athletics and hope that we will go back to face to face courses as the practical work is important.

Today I am a member of the advisory group, in the Midlands, who help to select the officials for their Regional events. Helping to develop the younger officials (to me) as they progress by giving them experience of roles that they may never have known about in athletics.

I am also a member of TRGN for the Midlands and South West Region, and have helped in the selections of officials for future events for England Athletics and UKA meetings. On the committee I hold the position of Upgrading Secretary helping aspiring officials to achieve their next level.

I suppose I have seen officiating as “my hobby”. I tried once to explain to my brother why I liked standing in a grassy field on a wet day. I don’t think I managed to convince him of the benefits of being a part of the team. I have adapted my hobby to the pressures of my work life balance and have been lucky to been able to continue with it despite life getting in the way sometimes. Where else can you get a free sun tan?