WE seem to hear a lot these days about a 'wasted generation' of young people – the majority of them are feckless, useless binge-drinking wastrels, a section of the popular tabloid press would have us believe.

I sense a certain section of people starting to nod in agreement...

But hang on a minute, we were all young once, weren't we? We all did stupid things, didn't we? All right, maybe you didn't. but I did – as one or two of my contemporaries out there may well attest.

Anyway, I reckon I’m lucky to be a grumpy old man now. Lucky that I wasn't as well off as this generation appear to be, lucky that I didn't have access to the unrestricted licensing hours of today, and lucky there weren’t social media platforms out there either. If there had been, my behaviour could have been a lot worse.

I’m not excusing the worst excesses of a small minority of teenagers in 2013. What I’m trying to say is I pushed the boundaries as far as I dared without breaking the law (most of the time) just as each successive generation of teens has always done. It's called growing up – and we should all give young people today the same license.

In further defence of the young, I find that the behaviour of the vast majority of young people I come across is at least as good as it was almost half a century ago, again contrary to popular myth.

I take the forum of local football fields as my starting point for this argument – a place I have been treading as a referee for 40 years.

I can honestly say that the sporting young men (and women) of today are better behaved than they were way back when. The language may have deteriorated – let’s face it, swearing has regret-tably become part of the English language as we know it over recent decades – but the amount of thuggery has declined massively and the respect that club players and officials show to each other and match officials has risen just as far. It’s a shame the so-called professional ‘role models’ we see on TV all the time don’t take note.