The candid thoughts of former Premier League referee Colin Preece, as recorded by our eavesdropping mole in the Duck and Peasant.
You’re right, Dave. Business end of the season, and everybody’s thinking about Leicester and Spurs maybe winning the Premier League. They’re not bothered about that in the north-east, though, mate. Did you see Newcastle-Sunderland? Not the most attractive game of the weekend, but it’s a point for each and they’re pretty glad of it.
Yes, Baz, I do have a bit of a soft spot for Sunderland. My Dad’s parents came from there and they used to tell me stories about the glory days. They’re still the sixth most successful club in England as regards winning the league, although the last time they did it was in the mid 1930s or something. Yeah, I know, it’s just another statistic if you want to look at it like that, but it’s history really. Just because you and I weren’t around doesn’t mean it never happened.
One day there will be a bunch of people sitting around this table and they’ll hear about you and me and Dave and Gary, and how one of us was a professional referee but they won’t know us from Adam. And then the young barmaid – she won’t be young then but I bet she’s a good looking older woman – she’ll say “No, it’s true. Colin was a ref, I saw him on TV a lot and would have liked to bear his children, but he was spoken for. He was a handsome man and very charming and his mates were all right except that Baz, he was a bit of a gorilla.”
Cheers, Gary, tell you what, get us all a large scotch on me – I’m quite flush at the moment. Well you have what you like with it, Dave. I’ll have mine straight, no ice, nothing, like they do on TV in Mad Men and detective shows. You too, Baz? Good man.
Yeah, so Newcastle-Sunderland and they’re both staring into the abyss, as they say. Relegation. Loss of earnings. Players leaving. Bloody hell, mate, it’s grim enough up there at the best of times. Give the poor sods a bit of Premier League, at least.
You know what would be a good game? Pick three or four managers and predict what they’ll be doing this time next year. If we’d done that last year it would be like “Sam Allardyce vs Rafa Benitez. What’s the fixture? Big Sam was about to jump ship at West Ham 12 months ago and Rafa was in Spain, no… Italy, with Napoli, Dave? You may well be right. He hadn’t even gone to Real Madrid yet. Who’d have thought they’d be presiding over the Tyne-Wear derby in 2016?
And if you’d said “Claudio Ranieri”, everybody would have gone, “He’s not even in England anymore and who’d be stupid enough to have him back?” Yet here he is, top of the pile with a no-hoper club and no money.
It just goes to show, Baz, yes. Show what, mate? No, I’ve always wanted to say that. Show what? It’s one of those expressions, that’s all.
Cheers, Gary. Down the hatch, eh? To the future, Baz. May the bluebird of happiness fly up your shorts one Sunday morning and transform you into Tony Adams.