The candid thoughts of Premier League referee Colin Preece, as recorded by our eavesdropping mole in the Duck and Peasant.
Evening lads. Did I watch Leicester-West Ham? As it happens, yes, and I suppose you’re going to ask me about the refereeing, aren’t you? Did it make me regret retiring, Dave? Did it hell, mate. You don’t go into refereeing to be the centre of attention. The matches a ref enjoys are the ones everybody else enjoys. Good football, sportsmanship The kind of games where you’re only there to rubber-stamp what is obvious to everybody.
I won’t talk about specifics, Baz, no. It was the guy’s general performance that upset people. But to be fair, I don’t know if there has ever been a match where the neutrals were so partisan, if you get my drift. I mean everyone wanted Leicester to win, even some West Ham fans did. It’s the triumph of the little guy, isn’t it? David versus Goliath. Not West Ham as Goliath, no, but Leicester against the big boys. If they hadn’t been doing so well this season we’d have been rooting for the Hammers, because it’s good to see them up there too.
But everybody wants Leicester to wrap it up as soon as possible. And even though the ref yesterday was neutral in that he doesn’t come from Leicester or support them, he’ll have a soft spot for them on the quiet.
He did make some strange decisions as regards penalties and you’re right, it did look like he felt he owed them one at the end when they were about to lose because of his dubious decisions earlier on. But did that affect his thinking? We will never know. You have a split second to call it, that’s all. It’s not like in cricket where some umpires give it a few seconds before deciding out or not out. If a football ref did that he’d be accused of weighing it up in more ways than one. I football it’s bang, this is my decision and it’s final.
Cheers, Gary, I don’t know what I want to drink, to be honest. Give me a moment. No, just joking, I’ll have a pint of good old honest-to-God lager, mate. Carlsberg.
Of course, when you think about it, there is something to be said for giving the injured party a break if you know you screwed up earlier and it’s going to cost them, but you can’t do it. You have to make every decision on its own merits. Penalty or no penalty, simple as that.
People were asking for it in that game, though. Huth and Morgan grabbing people in the box, impeding them. It’s the thing that brasses me off most in the whole game, as it happens. That and diving, and there was a bit of that going on too. I tell you what, there’s an ugly picture in the media of Jamie Vardy pointing his finger at the ref when he’s just been sent off and it’s the kind of thing that makes you think if you could send him off twice you’d do it. Never mind reporting it afterwards and letting the authorities deal with it. A ref’s only human, and nobody likes to be dissed in that way. Dissed, Dave. Disrespected. It’s an expression Jody uses, yes. She gets it from the kids she teaches at school.
Dissed. I like it. It makes you sound less like a victim and more like a righteous dude. Don’t diss me, man. But a ref doesn’t have that luxury. He’s just got to take it and know he’s in the right. Dissed off though he might be.