Britain’s oldest referee aged 81 says he has no plans to blow the whistle on his career – because the pastime keeps him out of M&S on Saturday afternoons.
George Wright has spent almost 50 years officiating his favourite sport since he retired as a player in 1970.
Three times a week George can be seen running up and down the pitch, sorting out wayward players – and he admits he rules with an iron fist.
George, from Bodmin, Cornwall, is getting on a bit now and has told his family he will consider giving it up – but admits he actually wants to keep going.
He said: “We aren’t all in a wheelchair at this age.
“As long as I maintain a bit of pace up and down the pitch and keep control of the occasional hooligan, I shall keep going.
“It’s good for me medically, and it keeps me out of Marks & Spencer on a Saturday afternoon.”
During his 48 years as the man in the middle, George has dealt with his fair share of aggro.
On one occasion, he even clouted a player fearing he was going to be punched.
George continued: “If there’s any argy, they go. I don’t take prisoners.
“In my time as a player, you didn’t have so much of this, like players chasing referees. So I’m a little bit against it, and I don’t put up with it.
“If it gets personal, they go instantly. Over the years, most people know you and know how far to go, and they don’t bother.
“I’m the bloke with the whistle, and if people get out of line, I’ll deal with it.”
George takes charge of games at several different levels, and referees up to three matches a week during busy periods.
“It’s been far too many lately,” he admits. “But I’ll go where I’m asked and when I’m asked.
“Last week, I reffed a game on a Tuesday, coached table tennis on the Friday, reffed again on the Saturday and then ran the line in two cup finals on the Sunday.
“But I hope I might inspire a few older people to keep referring.”
To top it off, George even arrives to games in his 1000cc Ducati sports bike – and get’s gasps of astonishment when he takes off his helmet.
His son, Graham, said: “I’ve been there when he takes his helmet off, and the reaction is priceless.”