A mum who referees kids' football matches is hanging up her whistle because of the 'horrendous' abuse she gets from parents at matches.
Mum-of-three Andrea Ruddy said parents have even spat at her.
The qualified football coach for the Durham FA, has officiated at more than 100 children's football matches in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance.
But she told the Evening Gazette: "I have had enough. I have had verbal abuse, have had linesman flags thrown at me and even been spat at.
"A couple of weeks ago I also had to be escorted to my car because of it.
"Up until this season I have really enjoyed the job but I can't take anymore - why should I?
"The abuse I get is horrendous and it happens at just about every match.
"It comes from the parents and managers when they think a decision I have made is the wrong one. "It happens in front of the kids and it then rubs off on them. They think they can do it too.
"What I have witnessed this season has been nothing short of disgraceful."
Andrea got into football at an early age and played regimental football when she joined the Army.
After taking a break following the birth of her three boys, she decided to train to become a qualified coach.
She said: "Parents should realise the referee is there for the 22 kids who enjoy playing and not for them.
"People don't realise what the ref goes through. It is hard enough to find referees as it is. Something needs to be done about this.
"The issues needs highlighting - people need to be aware it goes on. It is bullying at the end of the day."
Andrea added: "I will be sad to say goodbye because I have enjoyed it but I just feel enough is enough now. For me, it isn't worth it any more."
John Topping, company secretary for Durham FA, said: "It is very disappointing that it has come to this situation. If given an opportunity, we would like to try to address it."
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