A National League Hockey Club, part of Holcombeians Sports Club

Umpire in Profile: Adrian Hull

Name? Adrian Hull

Age? 41

When did you qualify? 2000

What level have you qualified to? Level 2

What made you start umpiring? The club were short of umpires so quite a few of us did it at the same time, including Amy who got a better theory score than I did.

What level have you played at? Regional with Holcombe’s 3bs

Has umpiring helped you as a player? Initially no, I will call it youthful ignorance but it made me question the umpires more often as I could see what had happened better than them. It cost me quite a few yellow cards. But once I started umpiring regularly, yes massively. You learn how to communicate better on the pitch, you appreciate what the umpire can and can’t reasonably see and you also learn how to make situations benefit you if you know what umpires are looking for. A better understanding of the rules can only help.

How is umpiring personally rewarding? I umpire one league below national league and last season I did my first National League game, as well as this pre-season umpiring our men’s 1XI in a friendly against Wimbledon. Being involved in games like that, which I would never have got close to as a player, is fantastic.  Being able to contribute to a game played at a high skill level and have the players and coaches thank you for helping the game is good to hear.

Aims for your future in umpiring? To reach level 3 and get the NPUA badge.

Hardest part of umpiring? The time it can take up when taking appointed games. Travelling to Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough for the games means I am gone all day and so can’t play but more importantly I can go a whole Saturday without seeing the girls which can be tough on them, especially now Gaby is also playing.

Hardest individual decision to get right? Probably being consistent with the aerial ball. It doesn’t help that the rules around it keep changing! Also, judging a deliberate breaking down of play compared to just a clumsy tackle. At a higher level it is easier to assume everything is deliberate (so taking the decision to make a tackle, not necessarily making a foul on purpose!) but the player in you wants to have some degree of sympathy with the players.

Favourite part of umpiring? Coming off after a challenging game and knowing you have done all you can to keep the players on the pitch and the game flowing. Even if the players have tried not to.

Best coaching advice received? Recently, all about getting to the baseline as early as possible and letting play come at you. It makes it so much easier. But one of the most simple is to smile while you umpire, enjoy it.  If you are talking to players and trying to explain things in a confrontational manner, it makes things worse.  Stay relaxed and smile as you are penalising them and they find it harder to argue. And use the captains, it is their responsibility to control the players. 

Best umpiring experience? When Holcombe hosted the women’s EuroHockey Club Trophy, the Saturday evening had a Holcombe vs. Hockey for Heroes game which I umpired. 500 people watching, a running commentary and some real quality on the pitch. It was great umpiring with an atmosphere like that. Quality-wise, the Holcombe vs. Wimbledon match.

Ever given a red card? Sadly, yes. Two. One was for swearing at me, leading to a 10-minute yellow and then continuing to swear while walking away so it had to be upgraded.  The second was for violent conduct as a player’s stick made contact with the face of a opponent after a bad tackle from that opponent.  Result was a yellow card for the initial challenge, a 10-minute yellow for the reaction from another player and a red for the raised stick. The game could easily have been destroyed at that point, but by taking time to speak to my colleague and make sure the injured party was ok, and then delivering the cards in a controlled manner and explaining it to the captains, the rest of the game was ok!