WHEN I started refereeing, we were told as referees we must consider ourselves as an appurtenance of the game.

What it meant was that if we were hit by the ball, this was the same as the ball hitting the goalposts or crossbar or the corner flag posts.

In other words, the game carried on.

Usually this happens in the middle of the pitch, but it can happen that the ball goes into the goal off the referee.

It happened to me when refereeing locally.

The ball had been played down into the right-hand corner and I followed it to be close to play.

However, the attacker kicked the ball back to a teammate in the centre of the pitch some way behind me.

As I scrambled to get back across to the left-hand side, the ball, which was going wide, struck me on the shoulder and bounced over the goalkeeper’s head into the goal.

Imagine the puzzled players when I pointed to the centre spot to indicate a goal.

There was a classic video last season where at a penalty, the goalkeeper dived and punched the ball out, but straight on to the head of the referee, from where it rebounded over the prostrate body of the goalkeeper for an unlikely goal.

But no longer.

In this year’s changes to the Laws of the Game, it says the ball is considered out of play, and the game stopped, if it touches a match official and remains on the field of play – but only in certain circumstances.

Firstly, goals can’t be allowed if the ball goes directly into the goal from a touch by the referee.

Also, the game would have to stop, if the touch sets up a promising attack.

Finally, the referee must stop the game if his touch of the ball should see possession of the ball change from one team to the other.

After these situations, the game

would restart with a dropped ball.

For any other touch by the referee, play continues as it always did.