Ref! On fallen giants and tattooed oiks

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


Evening lads.

Who’s got an old favourite team that’s languishing in the Championship now? I don’t mean the place you were born, but someone who used to knock around in the Premier League or the First Division but fell from grace and now plays in the Who Gives A Toss League.

Well, because I glanced at the Championship table the other day and it’s full of clubs who I can’t help thinking should be up there in what people of a certain age call the Top Tier. Well I’ll tell you why we call it the top tier, Baz. Because that means either the Premier League or the First Division, because before the Premier League was formed, the top teams played in… exactly. But it’s just us older guys who feel the need to acknowledge that, because the youngsters think 1992 was a long time ago and before that, nothing counts.

You tell them about Nottingham Forest winning the European Cup twice on the trot and for one thing they don’t know what the European Cup is and for another thing they’ve never known Forest to be a top club, so they kind of don’t believe it. And Derby County, also under Clough and Taylor. It’s like a history lesson for them, it’s about as real to them as Charles II or the Battle of Waterloo. They recognize the name, but it’s just a word, it doesn’t mean anything to them.

But you look at the Championship. Leeds United – everybody hated them but you couldn’t deny they were good. Sheffield Wednesday – they never won much but they were around. Ipswich – some great nights in Europe, plucky little Ipswich with John Wark rampaging around scoring unlikely goals.

Birmingham City, QPR, Wolves, they’ve all got their history. And now look at the promotion situation. Burnley and Middlesbrough are coming back up, and maybe Brighton. And Bolton are going down to League One. How do these things happen, Dave? Yes, I’m feeling my age a bit I suppose. Life goes on and things change.

Cheers, Gary, I’ll have a Soco and lemonade. Soco, mate. So Co. Southern Comfort. Yes, it’s Jody’s influence, she’s a young woman but there’s nothing wrong with that. And she likes to have a bottle of Southern Comfort at home and I’ve got quite partial to it. All right? It’s nothing to snigger about, you pair of cavemen.

Where was I? Oh yeah. The fallen giants. Even further down in League One, you find Coventry City and Sheffield United, I believe. Playing Fleetwood. I mean, who’s ever even been to Fleetwood? I bet the satnav laughs when the coach driver punches the word in.

Well, it just makes you think, Baz. It’s like when you see some young oik up in court for assaulting an old lady and he’s got tattoos and piercings all over the place but his name is Mountbatten or Windsor or something. Where did it all go wrong?

Yes, I suppose you could see it the other way round and his ancient ancestors were the scum of the earth who bettered themselves and he’s a throwback to the bad old days.

But who are we going to be seeing down there in 20 years’ time? High-flying Fleetwood in promotion play-off with Arsenal?

Cheers Gary. If I knock this straight back could you get us another one? I’ll give you the money. All right, I’ll go myself. Anybody else? Yes, of course. No, I’ll get socos all round.



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