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"there has only ever been one perfect man, the Lord Jesus, and we killed him. I only missed a putt."

Berhard Langer on the 1991 Ryder Cup

The man in the middle

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Howard Webb, London Simon and Schuster, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4711-5995-4

The trouble with referees is that they are often of the mistaken opinion that the game of football is about them. Howard Webb certainly falls into that trap.

The account of how Webb went from being a local referee in Yorkshire to being in charge of the World Cup final is an interesting story. On the other hand I thought that accounts of what managers and players said to him in the heat of the moment and in-fighting between elite references might have been better left unwritten.

When he took on his post retirement media role, he states that he was looking forward to supporting referees and “filling the void that was all too often occupied by ill-informed pundits”. Given that these days pundits are almost exclusively distinguished ex-players, this did seem an astonishingly arrogant judgement.

I did find the author or his ghostwriter’s inability to express themselves without copious references to shit – the word must have appeared 50 times in the text – rather tedious after a bit. Similarly phases like being as “pissed as a fart” and Webb’s reaction to being invited to referee the Champions League final “What the Fuck” did nothing to enhance the quality of the writing.

Not a memorable book.



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