For the vast majority of the year I am a pretty calm, placid bloke but as soon as I get near a football pitch that changes. Whether playing or watching, for those 90 minutes I am oddly happy to direct an endless flow of angry, petty and needling invective at the referee. It’s shameful, but I can’t stop myself – there’s just something about that sense of a common enemy. It’s exactly this kind of nonsense photographer David Imms is exploring in his great new work for the ever-impressive LAW magazine.
His four portraits of Sunday League referees, taken on London’s famous Hackney Marshes, are an attempt not just to understand, but to lionise these figures who facilitate our national pastime. As David says: “This mini-series is about the home-made thrown together referee attire, the individuality and personality of a bloke that’s always seen as the bad guy. Maybe it’s about that £30 for the 90 minutes of abuse from a load of hungover kids? But I doubt it. Let’s raise a metaphorical glass –in a game full of false idols, these guys are the working class heroes a lot of these kids need.”
It’s the second time in successive issues LAW has stepped up with some really good photography projects, following on from the brilliant Wet Look 93 celebration of the days of luminous blue hair gel.