The Great Football Song Library No.1: ‘The Referee’s Alphabet’ by Half Man Half Biscuit

Ollie Irish

14th, July 2009


The A is for my authority, which many players seem to question, thinking they’re somehow going to make me change my mind.
B is for babies, which a lot of managers cry like after a decision has not gone their way.
C is for the continual criticism I recieve from the touchline - get back in your technical area!
D is for the dunderheads who seem to think we have a conspiracy against their particular team.
E is for the eery silence which echoes around the ground when I’ve booked the home team’s player – and it’s obvious to everyone that he deserved it.
F is the farce into which most games would descend if we weren’t there.
The G is for the gnarled face of someone who’s on £90,000 a week and reckoned he should have had a throw-in.
H is for handball, which has to be intentional and very rarely is - if only people would study the rules more.
I is for innocence, pleaded by many a doe-eyed defender after they’ve just scythed down that tricky winger.
J is for ju-jitsu, which i quite intend to display, given a dark alley and some of the narky blerts I’ve encountered. [What’s a narky blert?]
The K is for the kissing of the badge - how ridiculous that looks six months later when they’re at another club.
L is for lip reading, of which you don’t have to be an expert to see how odious some people are.
M is for the mistakes we sometimes make - surely a bit of controversy is part of the game’s appeal.
The N, the N is for the numbskull who during the Boxing Day game asks me what else I got for Christmas besides my whistle… an afternoon with your wife, mate.
The O is for offside, which many forwards tell me they simply could not have been.
The P is for the penalty shootout - great drama and no pressure on me.
The Q is the quiet word I sometimes need to have with some of the more fiery participants – I usually choose the word ‘pleat’.
R is for running backwards, a difficult skill which the pundits never seem to appreciate.
S is for the suggestion that I should have shown a card of some sort to a player who’s just been awarded a free-kick…
Sorry I got all that wrong – the S again…
OK, the S, the S is the suggestion that I should show a card to an opponent by a player who’s been awarded a free-kick – he himself is more in danger of getting one for that.
T is for the 21-man brawl which is basically an embarrassing scene of pushing and shoving.
U is for the umpire which I sometimes wish I’d been instead – you never hear a cricket crowd shouting ‘Who’s the bastard in the hat’.
The V is for vitriol, vilification, vendetta and volley of verbal abuse… some good bird noises there.
W is for Walter Pidgeon, whose Mr Griffiths in ‘How Green Was My Valley’ I may have started to sound like during this song… ‘Where was the light I thought to see in your eye?’
He says that to a young Huw, played by Roddy McDowall.
The X… The X represents the sarcastic kiss planted on my forehead by a swarthy Portuguese centre-half whom I’ve just dismissed.
The Y is for Yate, the kind of town referees come from.
And the Z… Well the Z could be for Zidane, Zico, Zola, Zubizaretta, Zoff, even Zondervan.
But is in fact for the zest with which we approach our work… without this zest for the game we wouldn’t become refs and without refs… well, zero.
See also Zatopek, Zeus and Zeal Monachorum. I have a caravan there – static naturally.