IF YOU were to ask the people of Anglesey who their favourite referee is, then I’m certain that several of those questioned would say “it’s got to be Heinz”.
It is no secret to anyone that the German born official is a favourite amongst many a club on the Anglesey football scene and it’s not hard to see why. His fair but firm approach to taking charge of games seems to put him a cut above the rest and it’s always a welcome bonus to a game whenever his name is put down to be the match official.
During a recent talk I had with Heinz, he explained that, although he may be the neutral man in black on the pitch nowadays, that wasn’t always the case.
“I first completed a refereeing course in Germany in 1992, but only because it was a requirement as part of my of a managing course I was doing at the time,” he said.
“After then completing that course, I became heavily involved in managing my home club’s junior side and had no intention of ever refereeing. However, one Wednesday night, our senior side had a match and the referee didn’t turn up and I was asked to officiate the game. That was back in 1994, but from that day onward I have since refereed a game nearly every weekend.”
A move from his homeland in Western Europe to the most-Northern point of Anglesey in Amlwch due to work in 1999, would eventually see Heinz take his officiating skills to the next level. After becoming good friends with local football enthusiast Nigel Ault, he was introduced to the Anglesey football scene and the rest, as they say, is history.
Having started out officiating Sunday League matches on the island, Heinz says he holds fond memories from matches over the years, although he can’t quite remember how many cards he’s dished out.
” I really don’t remember how many (cards) I have issued since the beginning of my refereeing career in Wales but what I can say is that it was more back then than I’m issuing nowadays,” he said.
“That is because the players had to get used to my style of refereeing and my tolerance levels for the abuse us refs can face. I remember one bizarre incident when I first started officiating on Anglesey – it was a Sunday League fixture which I had to abandon after 20 minutes because every player, manager and spectator at the match began fighting each other following a nasty tackle!”
Scenes of anger and facing constant abuse would be enough to put most referees off the game forever, but Heinz has always bounced back. Throughout it all, he’s managed to keep a smile on his face and always make himself available to take charge of games on the island and sometimes beyond too. He puts the support of his wife Sue and daughter Kirsten down as one of the main factors that help him keep going every Saturday.
In what is now his 20th year of being a referee in north Wales, Heinz continues to enjoy the game. Reflecting on some of his standout moments, he said: “The very first game I took charge of was one in Valley and there has been many memorable ones ever since.
“It’s very difficult to pick just one match that sticks out out of all of them to be honest. But I will say that last months North Wales Coast Football Association (NWCFA) Junior Cup quarter final between Bryngwran Bulls and Arriva Bangor was incredible because it had it all. The Bulls won 5-4 in Extra Time and it was a great game between two strong Anglesey League sides.
“The most memorable moment for me however was being appointed for my first ever Cup final – which was the NWCFA Junior Cup final at Porthmadog in the 2000/2001 season (won by Nantlle Vale).”
Nearly 20 seasons later and Heinz is still going strong in the Anglesey League and has built a reputation for being one of the best refs around. He says the things that keep him going are making friends by meeting the players and the managers in the pub after the matches, keeping his fitness up, and just feeling like he is part of the football community in general.
Having seen many a quality player pass through the league over the years, some of whom went onto achieve great things, Heinz lists players such as Jackie Walsh, Craig Brodie and Bangor City legend/current Llandudno striker Les Davies (who was once at Glantraeth) as some of the standouts. However, the one player who he will remember forever is he says is Richard Jones (Ricky Bach) of Bodedern Athletic, who he compares to German legend Lothar Matthaus.
During my chat with him, Heinz was also keen to praise the current standard of football being played in the Anglesey League as he believes that it is very much on the up.
“The Anglesey League is a very exciting league to be part of and it’s very well run by the committee in charge of it,” he said.
“I have to mention one person in particular who has become a good friend of mine – Dennis Bryant (who is currently NWCFA President). Dennis (below) deserves a lot of credit for his hard work to keep the Anglesey League going over the years and he is always looking for new teams to take part and help make the division as competitive as it is today.
“The league games are currently played at a very good standard and the last four seasons have shown this with the eventual league champions being decided on the last day of the season, which shows how close the teams are in terms of competition. Even the teams which are not in the top half of the league table play with passion and very good team spirit. It would be a very sad day if the Anglesey League was to cease existence.”