LONG before the first fan arrives for a Premier Soccer League (PSL) match Stan Swart is at the venue for a pre-match meeting with the police, first aid staff, private security, representatives of both teams and also checking the field.
The Charlo resident became a PSL match commissioner after his long stint as a referee going back to 1975.
His role also includes assessing the referees during the match. He only leaves after the fans have gone home.
“After playing in a Premier League game for Umbilo in KwaZulu-Natal a friend persuaded me to referee a match. I have not looked back since.
“Refereeing is certainly not for the faint hearted. I will never forget the day I flagged an Amazulu player offside in a game against Dynamos. The crowd of about 30000 was incensed and bottles rained down.”
But that is nothing compared to a match between Kaiser Chiefs and Wits where the army had to intervene.
“There was a riot when I sent off Ace Ntsoelengu for violent conduct. The army had to be brought in to get the officials out that night.”
Swart’s most memorable match was the Mainstay Cup final between Kaiser Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in front of 90000 spectators.
“The game has been good to me although I only earned R25 a match when I started and R210 when I retired. Today referees pocket R4500.
“I had the privilege of meeting Nelson Mandela and Jacob Zuma … In 1989 I won the Referee of the Year award and my prize was a trip to the UK to watch the FA Cup final and an England match.”
Swart believes bribery is prevalent in the lower league in the country.
“In my days as a referee I remember two occasions when I was offered a bribe to influence a match. If I had accepted, I certainly would not be where I am now.”
Swart only has one regret: “When the country was readmitted to international soccer I was invited to do a fitness test to join the Fifa panel.
“A day before I was due to leave I was informed that I was too old – the cut-off age was 40.”
Swart has been married to his wife Lorraine for 37 years. They have four grandchildren.
“Luckily I do not get too lonely when Stan is ‘gallivanting’ around the country. His absence is my ‘me time'”, Lorraine said.
“When he was a referee the girls [Beverly and Melissa] and I watched the matches he refereed. Of course we got anxious when things became threatening.”
When he is not running the rule over matches around the country, Swart attends St Mark’s church and watches soccer on TV, supporting his favourite team Manchester United.