Durham FA Referee Gary Beswick Will Officiate This Summer in the Delayed Euro 2020 Competition.
Gary took the time to chat with RDO Alex Clark to discuss his selection, advice for new and existing referees and the challenges he expects to face at the tournament.
Alex: Gary, first of all congratulations on your selection to Euro 2020, it was only in July we were sitting down talking about your second FA Cup Final appointment. Can you sum up how you were feeling on receiving this excellent piece of news?
Gary: Thanks Alex. Delighted would be one word, proud would be another. The team I work with, Anthony (Taylor), Adam (Nunn) and Stuart Attwell (as our VAR) have been working towards this goal as a team for a number of years now and to finally achieve this is difficult to put into words. A small period of reflection is ok, but the tournament is on the horizon and we must now be ready as we have ever been because we have worked all our careers so far to be at this moment
Alex: As we have touched on you have had some big achievements and excellent appointments. Where would you rank your Euro 2020 selection on your list of achievements?
Gary: Every achievement is a milestone, from achieving promotion at county level, to achieving any cup final or accolade. Over time each achievement has helped me build up to the next one, from the local level finals up until my last which was the UEFA Super Cup 2020. Each achievement is only an ambition until you make it a reality. The selection for EURO2020 being the latest, at the moment is the biggest and highest honour as representing my country at a major international tournament is a first for me
Alex: Some of our Durham FA Refereeing Community have been in touch with questions. Level 4 Referee Jack Arrowsmith has asked what the main reason was you decided to choose assistant refereeing over refereeing?
Gary: Back in 2013 I was an assistant referee in the Premier League aspiring to be on the FIFA list and also a Panel 2B referee. I was performing well in both, however at the age of 35 I felt I had to choose between pursuing a career on the FIFA list as an assistant with the ultimate goal of travelling the world and representing my country or to follow the refereeing route in which achieving FIFA would not be an option. Age played a big part in my decision at that moment, in another world I would have loved to have seen how far I could have gone as a referee. I have no regrets obviously, but I enjoyed both roles
Alex: I think everyone is hopeful that spectators will be allowed in the stadiums to watch the games. How much are you looking forward to this after virtually a full season of no spectators?
Gary: We have had spectators in a couple of games this season abroad but only a fraction of the capacities of the stadiums. For sure it will take a period of adjustment going from empty to full stadiums for both players and referees, but I do not know anyone that is not looking forward to seeing spectators as they are very much part of the game and everyone misses the atmosphere they create
Alex: Specialist Assistant Stephen Beresford has asked; you obviously referee week in week out in the Premier League and regularly in the Champions League but how does your approach have to change for international and tournament football?
Gary: In the Premier League we will regularly see the teams in action either in person or watching on tv so the team’s style and player attributes we are familiar with. When we officiate internationally we come across teams less frequently, so we are not as aware of the teams or players quite as much. This is where tactical pro-active analysis watching videos and doing our homework is a must to ensure we are ready for the challenges that may occur in terms of positioning, physical work rate or tactical. During a tournament situation we will watch every game to make ourselves familiar with any team we come across for the same reasons
Alex: This tournament is unique in that it is taking place over multiple countries in Europe. What do you think will be the biggest challenges with this as a team of match officials?
Gary: The travel from base camp in Istanbul will be potentially be the most noticeable part of it I guess. However, this is a good base with games in Azerbaijan, Russia, Italy, England, Holland, Denmark, Romania, Hungary, Scotland, Spain and Germany. Luckily we have experience as a team of attending the U17’s World Cup in India back in 2017 which involved some large distances between venues. The biggest time difference is 3 hours (UK to Baku) and we are very familiar to changing time zones travelling internationally so this should feel routine
Alex: The tournament will take place in the summer and in hot weather, Darren Williams a level 3 referee asks, would you prepare any differently for officiating in hot weather compared to your normal routine and approach?
Gary: Hydration! We will train most days outside so we will acclimatise quickly in Turkey to the temperature. From experience you do adapt to different climates but the most important part in heat is to remain hydrated. We will have sports scientists and fitness coaches looking after us everyday so this will help keep us as prepared as we can be. Once again, prior experience of tournament football in Chile for 5 weeks in 2015 and India for 4 weeks in 2017 helps with psychology and what to expect
Alex: Level 7 Referee Kyle Hutchinson would like to know if you could give one piece of advice in order to become a better referee what would it be?
Gary: I could give many pieces of advice but if I was to pick just the one subject it would be work ethic. This includes looking at what it takes to operate and succeed at the level above what you officiate at currently in terms of player management, positioning, movement and body language and working hard to adopt these into your game. All these parts will increase your ability and most likely accuracy and credibility. The last point I’d like to make about work ethic is fitness and desire. Work really hard on fitness, be the fittest referee at your level, make that your aim and identity, you will only achieve this with desire. Hard work pays off eventually, believe, work hard and don’t give up chasing your goals. Be prepared to do what others won’t to achieve what others can’t.
Alex: If anyone was unsure about getting into refereeing, what would your advice be?
Gary: Try it. I had no intention of becoming a referee. I tried it and slowly I began to like the challenge, it did wonders for my enjoyment of football and also fitness. Nothing that is worthwhile doing is easy or everyone would do it. It might not be for you, but if you don’t try it you will never know. I’d rate that decision to start and then continue refereeing way back in my first season in 1996 as a 19 year old as one of the best decisions I have made in my life
Alex: Gary, thanks for taking the time to chat and share with us your thoughts ahead of Euro 2020 and thank you for your help and support in developing the next generation of Durham FA Referees.
All at Durham FA wish Gary the very best of luck and we will be cheering him on.
If you have been inspired to get involved in refereeing please contact RDO Alex Clark on Alex.Clark@DurhamFA.com or 0191 3872929 (opt 2, opt 6)