The candid thoughts of Premier League referee Colin Preece, as recorded by our eavesdropping mole in the Duck and Peasant.
Did you read that thing on the BBC website, Dave, about the Respect campaign that’s supposed to make life easier for us referees? That’s right, it said nothing much has changed. To be fair, it’s probably better at the professional level, because there’s cameras everywhere and the players are being paid so much money that they see not being such an idiot as part of the job now. Most of them, most of the time.
We used to get all sorts of abuse and some of the guys used to give it back too, but you can’t do that when you’re miked up.
You know the worst thing in my book, though? It was mainly the Italians. When you blew for an offence and called the guy who did it over, he would put his hands behind his back and walk towards you sort of wiggling his hips, doing the naughty schoolboy bit. Used to make me want to punch the bleeder. You can’t, of course. Even in the Seventies you couldn’t touch them. It’s what in the services is called dumb insolence: they don’t say or do anything actually offensive, but they’re taking the piss.
They can’t do that anymore. But as I said, it works mainly at the top level because it’s all caught on camera.
At a local level, that’s where there is still trouble, because they can get away with it. When you’re officiating at a match between No Hope Rovers and the South Telford Tossers, you haven’t got the Match of the Day crew documenting everything. It’s the law of the jungle, mate. Most people will respect the referee’s decision, but some won’t.
Plus, I suppose there’s a lot of broken dreams and disillusionment out there, because they all wanted to be stars and they plainly aren’t, so the resentment factor is pretty high.
Cheers, Gary, pint of effing Stella, ya whingeing fakkin’ poof. See? Not nice, is it?
If there is a heaven, lads, the refs are going to be lounging by the pool with scantily clad young actresses sucking our toes while we’re served drinks and slices of upmarket pizza by John Terry, Ryan Shawcross, Dennis Wise and the entire 1976 Inter Milan back four, all of them on day release from Hades.
Hades, Baz. No, it’s not a bar run by someone called Haydie, it’s another word for Hell.
All right, mate, move back a yard while I smear the head of your Guinness on the carpet to mark the spot. The spot where your brain fell out. Come to think of it, you were a dirty git, weren’t you? The Chopper Harris of the Isthmian League. One more word out of you and you’re off, mate.