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Halsey time

This has been my week for football books. 

Mark Halsey has been one of my favourite English referees for several years, and I am not a natural fan of that profession. He has always struck me as positive in his attitude to the game, and as a man who realises that a set-up that preaches RESPECT, in great big capital letters, should be prepared to show that to players as well as demanding it from them. He retired from the game at the end of last season, after a career interrupted by a successful battle against cancer, and has now published his autobiography, ‘Added Time’. His book makes it pretty clear that his sympathetic attitude to the game did not endear him to the regime which is currently in charge of English match officials. There are two sides to every argument, but the fact that the publisher (no names, no pack drill) who commissioned the book declined subsequently to publish it, indicates that a certain amount of leaning may have gone on. (Nothing new about that  in publishing, by the way, as a friend of mine could tell you.)

In the end, Mark and his co-writer took the considerable gamble of publishing it independently. They won, for it has become a sports best-seller, and quite right too. He comes across as a bitter man, and hits all his targets. At the same time he is generous in his praise, and the book does shed light on the world of the people who control football matches and the extent to which they are themselves controlled. There are always two sides to every yarn, but the very idea that his former employers did their best to silence him makes me lean towards his version. 

One small criticism which readers should note. In his list of favourite pre-match music, Mark lists a track by Bobby McFerrin, ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ and refers sadly to the singer’s suicide. Fact is, Bobby McF is still among us; the suicide thing was an internet rumour that was debunked years ago.

Categories: Sport
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