Ref! On Allardyce and a grim future

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


Hey,Baz, there’s a bloke asking for you up by the bar. I don’t know, he’s from the FA, I think, wants to offer you a job. No, the Allardyce thing was all an elaborate joke and it’s you they want for England manager.

Well, I mean come on, Sam Allardyce? How desperate has this country become? Never mind him being at unfashionable clubs – Brian Clough and Peter Taylor were at Derby and Notts Forest, but they actually won things. They transformed clubs and won the league and the European Cup. All Big Sam’s done is make Bolton and Blackburn unpleasant places to go on the dreaded, legendary “wet Wednesday in November”.

Dreaded because you were going to be assaulted, Dave, that’s right. He can talk all he likes about the great football his teams played, but how come nobody else thinks so? If he’d turned Bolton into Barcelona I think we might have noticed.

And at West Ham the fans couldn’t wait to get rid of him because the team didn’t play “the West Ham way”, which might be a myth going back to the 1960s, but you can see their point. Allardyce got back into his element at Sunderland, because they were in a relegation dogfight, and that’s what his teams are good at: scrapping.

No, no, Dave, I agree, we shouldn’t bury him before he’s lived in the England job. But what points do you want to make in his defence? His name?

Yes, I agree, it’s unfortunate that he sounds like a character in Last of the Summer Wine, a dyed-in-the-wool northerner with ferrets down his trousers. It makes him sound like an unsubtle dinosaur. They used to say the opposite about Tim Henman, like he’d have been a more powerful and successful player if his name was Tom Bulman, just because it sounds meatier. So yes, if Allardyce had been called Simon Alan Dyson, we might have given him a bit of credit.

And if he’s looked less like a thug and more like a thinker, but he can’t help that either. I don’t disagree with you, mate.

Cheers, Gary, what’s the guest ale this week? Big Sam? Seriously? I’ll have a pint of that, mate. In a reinforced glass, just in case.

So what we’re saying is that Sam Allardyce needs a makeover. I’m sure the FA’s PR department is working on that. Lose some weight, get rid of the coaliminer’s haircut and make him look more like Philip Seymour Hoffman. There is a resemblance, you know.

But no, we’ll see. But it’s a bit embarrassing, isn’t it, when the press are asking people like Jose Mourinho what he thinks and Mourinho’s going, “Yes, Good appointment.” He must have laughed himself silly when he heard the news.

Seriously, gentlemen, we shall see, but from here it looks ludicrous, doesn’t it? If the English candidates were Allardyce and Steve Bruce – who’s a very nice guy, by the way – then we’re in trouble. I just hope the way the situation has been laid bare will show the club owners the folly of appointing foreign managers. Except the owners are all foreign too, Dave, exactly.

So maybe we need to fast forward to 50 years’ time, when the bubble has burst and football in England is a part-time game and the Shetland Islands are world champions because of their zero-tax laws and untold riches.

And our grandchildren will be sitting here – Baz’s won’t, because they’ll be in prison – talking about the good old days when England used to occasionally qualify for a tournament before getting knocked out by Andorra.


Ref! It’s a man’s game

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


Fixture congestion, Dave. You’re right, there were a lot of people moaning about it at the weekend. Steve Bruce at Hull City, Pellegrini at Manchester City. No, I don’t think he was right to put out a weakened team to protect some of his stars for the Champions league in midweek. And his team of kids got stuffed 5-1, didn’t they?

No, you can’t do that. It’s a man’s game. Well, the men’s game is a man’s game, but I think you’ll find the principle applies to women’s football too. That’s not a bunch of Daisies and Tallulahs dancing around, frightened to get their knees dirty. They mean business, just like the men. They might not use the same expression, but they would express the same sentiment. It’s their job. And if it gets extra difficult at times because they have to play more often, they just have to get on with it.

Which brings us, Baz, as you say, to the whole issue of women’s sport. You see what looks like a football story in the paper or online but you don’t recognize the names. And that’s because it’s about Arsenal Ladies or England women.

You don’t think it’s right, then, giving equal importance to the women’s game when the standard is a lot lower. I’m inclined to agree with you, but for God’s sake don’t tell Jody I said that. Yes, that’s if you ever meet her. No, I’m not keeping her under wraps exactly, but I’m not bringing her down here on a Monday night, am I? It’s a blokes’ night, and the way to keep the peace at home is to make it clear that’s what it is. We don’t sit here looking at the totty and we certainly don’t go looking for it. But as soon as Dave goes home and says to Stephanie, “Oh, Col’s new girlfriend was there, she’s really nice,” we’re all in trouble. Either they’re going to be suspicious of our motives or they’re going to want to come along.

We can do all that socializing in the summer when we’re having barbecues rained off.

Cheers, Gary, I’ll have a spritzer. A spritzer, mate. Dry white wine topped up with soda water. Well, it’s alcohol, isn’t it? Just hasn’t got the calories of a pint of Guinness. Yes, she introduced me to it. And if it was good enough for George Best when had anti-alcohol implants, it’s good enough for me. Yes, they were supposed to make him violently ill if he drank alcohol, but he found he could slip a few spritzers through with no trouble, and bingo! Paved the way to his early death.

I hear what you’re saying, Dave. Is it wrong to only watch women’s football or cricket just to look at the women? Well what do you think they do when they watch men’s sport? If you’ve got a good knowledge of the terminology you can even comment on it without sounding sexist, so when your missus talks about how elegant Ross Barkley is when he’s shaping for a shot, she is disguising the fact that she’s imagining him shaping for a shot at her, bent over the sofa.

Sorry, Dave, not your missus specifically. You know what I’m saying. You watch a female midfielder pulling off a sliding a tackle in the mud and you can’t help imagining that she’d be quite good fun in the sack, can you? No, I mean it. You reckon it’s just me? Come on… Baz? Not you as well. I mean be honest.