Ref! On Chelsea and a beautiful game

The candid thoughts of Premier League referee Colin Preece, as recorded by our eavesdropping mole in the Duck and Peasant.


I tell you what, lads, yesterday I watched the best game of football I’ve seen all season. Yes, Baz, I make no apology for the fact that it was Chelsea. Cracking game.

Yes, I’ll tell you why. Okay, it was against MK Dons, who are not exactly giants of the footballing world, but they played football – they didn’t shut up shop and try to stifle Chelsea, and they didn’t try to kick them out of it. They played football as it should be played.

And Chelsea, for their part, they put out a full strength team and they took it seriously, gave MK a bit of respect even after it became apparent they could stuff them. They kept at it for 90 minutes.

Yes, of course, Dave, that’s what people should always do, but they don’t, do they? Half the time the big club names players you’ve never heard of and the smaller club decides they might not be as skilful but they’re every bit as big and strong, and they decide to dish out the rough stuff.

But this, lads – did you see it, Gary? Brilliant stuff, wasn’t it? Whatever you think about what happened at Chelsea early in the season, which we still don’t know and maybe never will really, they’ve got some great players and it was football’s loss when they were giving matches away. So they come into this match, FA Cup, which may be their best chance of a trophy this season, and they give it their all.

They’ve got such a lot of skill in the squad and in similar positions, so Hazard hasn’t been good this season but Willian’s been doing it, and Hazard starts and has a good go but it’s just not working for him at the moment. And then Oscar gets a hat trick. And Hazard scores a penalty, but you could see he still wasn’t happy with himself. He wants to do like he did last season and be brilliant every week. But with the teammates he’s got, it doesn’t matter so much. You lose as a team and you win as a team.

Cheers, Gary, I’ll have a glass of sparkling wine. No, seriously. I’m celebrating because it felt yesterday like normal service had been resumed and all the grumbling about overpaid players taking us for a ride was gone.

You’re right, Baz, it was a bit of a bombshell to find out straight after that John Terry’s leaving, but he didn’t make a fuss either, did he? Everything was done in the right spirit yesterday. Hardly a foul, and you had to keep checking to see there actually was a referee there.

And late on, MK were still having a go but still in the right way, and they get a good chance and Courtois, who hadn’t had hardly anything to do, he’s still awake and pulls off a good save.

It tell you, lads, sometimes life doesn’t seem so bad after all. Cheers, Gary. Your health, one and all.





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