Barça Rewind - 3 February 1918: Pick-your-own ref!
A look back at the curious goings-on in the days when the home club got to choose the refereee!
MIKE ROBERTS/MANEL TOMÁS
Between 1906 and 1917, Enric Peris de Vargas became the first player to make 200 appearances for Barça. After retirement he went on to become one of the great referees of the era, which in those days was a purely voluntary service – and recruitment of match officials was a lot more informal than what we are used to these days!
A fine example of that happened on 3 February 1918. It was just two months after De Vargas had retired, and he was about to tuck into lunch before strolling down to the Calle Industria ground to watch his former team take on Espanyol. There was an unexpected ring of the doorbell.
It was two Barça directors, asking him if he fancied reffing the match. De Vargas said no. First, he fancied watching the game with his family, and second, as a former Barça player he was hardly the most impartial choice for such a game.
But the directors weren’t taking no for an answer. The day before, Barça had lost 3-2 to Espanyol in a game “refereed by Sampere, who is an Espanyol member in the situation as your own and we accepted. So they have no reason to object to you refereeing today.”
You can’t argue with that! Enric grabbed his whistle, jumped in the same taxi that had brought the visitors to his door and officiated a 5-2 win for the blaugrana.