Britain’s oldest referee, 89, has no plans to blow the final whistle on his hobby, 40 years after starting his career. Frank Foster started refereeing in November 1980 and continues to officiate men’s, women’s and children’s footy three times a week for Sheffield and Hallamshire FA.
The sprightly man, who is a ruthless ref on the pitch, said he won’t stop until he “can’t keep up” with the players and expects to continue into his 90s.
The great-grandad-of-three said: “I just love it. Whether it’s girl’s football, women’s, boy’s or men’s football – I’m the same.
“I just love football but you’ve got to play it to the rules so no diving.
“I like seeing that people play by the rules and that there’s no dissent.
“I don’t accept any trouble, even from spectators.
“I make them understand the word respect.
“When I talk to the players before the match starts, I tell them to play to the whistle and all that jazz.
“I tell them not to get into any altercations and tell them that I’ll sort it all out because if you retaliate, then it’s even worse.”
“I didn’t have to give him a red card or anything.
“But if the ball was in front of him then he wouldn’t run for it, he just wanted the ball at his feet from what I can remember.
“I can’t remember their names now but I once refereed Chesterfield’s center forward and Barnsley’s goalkeeper some years ago.”
Frank also explained how people would mistake his age, incorrectly picking ages much lower than his real age.
He added: “There have been times when I’m leaving the field and someone will come up to me and ask how old I am.
“I ask them how old they think I am, they might say 67 but I’ll always say spot on.
“I don’t even think about my age and I’ll be a referee until I can’t keep up with them.
“I might eventually need a moped at half time but I’ll always keep doing it.”
Over the years, he has gathered plenty of stories of pernicious players answering back whom he has dealt with firmly.
Frank said: “One time I was refereeing at a men’s game and every time I made a decision on something, one of the players said ‘oh my God.’
“I thought I would let that go a little bit.
“But after the second time he said it, I went up to him and said ‘it’s nice to know that there are people who are religious who play football.’
“He didn’t say it anymore, it’s just all about how you approach things.”
He added: “I don’t take anything from spectators either, I tell them to either be quiet or I’ll just send them away.
“If I do have to send them away, then I find out which team they are there supporting and call the manager of that team over to send that chap away.
“Then if he doesn’t go away, I’ll cancel the game.
“One time I sent a chap away and he asked how far I wanted him to walk.
“I told him that if he sees a number five bus, then he should get on it.”