(The Original)

Amateur Scribe

Poll Inspires the Men in Black

Referee Rob Styles will not officiate in the Premier League next weekend following his performance in the Liverpool-Chelsea game on Sunday.

Styles was criticised for awarding a controversial penalty to Chelsea.

Referees' chief Keith Hackett told BBC Radio 5live: "It is just like with players, if they miss an open goal they are likely to be dropped."

BBC Website 20/8/07


Styles: Now accountable for blunders

Brilliant. Finally we have performance-based refereeing: Give a dodgy penalty and you’ll be warming the bench for the foreseeable future. Issue a swarthy Croatian three yellow cards and you can expect to be farmed out on loan to the Ryman League for the rest of your career.

And why not? Gone are the days when top level football officials were merely dour bankers from Sidcup looking for a run-out on a Saturday afternoon. The new breed are professional athletes with training camps, selection panels and high-level sponsorship from Top Man. As a result, we demand excellence, consistency and glamorous signings from Latin America that nobody’s heard of.

And the marketing opportunities are endless: Why buy a Rooney replica shirt when you can strut your stuff in a Rob Styles-affiliated FIFA training top?

The Premier League refereeing pool is now, essentially, a finely-tuned squad of Galactico whistle-blowers, assembled at great cost and run with military precision by Hackett and co. But, clearly, every star-studded team needs a charismatic man at the helm.

We asked newly-appointed manager of “The Men in Black”, Graham Poll, to pen an exclusive diary for this website. I’ll be honest: It didn’t cost us much. Basically we just bought him a jazzy leather-bound journal and a Mourinho-esque trench coat from Debenhams and let him waffle on. Below are some excerpts – highly sanitized, and stripped of much of its self-serving eulogy - but you get the gist.

August 10

I can’t believe what an honour it is to be spearheading British refereeing into a new era. For too long, the players have been the centre of attention – but I feel this squad has what it takes to put refereeing firmly on the map.

What will my style be? Perhaps the determination of Ferguson, the flamboyance of Jose, and the technical nouse of Paul Durkin. I fiery combo, I think you’ll agree.

I like to think I’m the man for the job, but I’m under no illusions that it will be easy. Yes I’ve got two World Cups and an FA Cup Final under my belt. Yes I’m the poster-boy for 21st century refereeing. Yes, I won the Hertfordshire Gum-Chewer of the Year competition (1996-99 inclusive) – but it would be remiss of me to suggest I can dominate management, like I bestrode the centre circle and technical area … (Nauseating section on personal achievements in football deleted – Ed)

August 16th

Fire-fighting with the tabloids is not something I relish – but I’ve got used to it over my glittering career. They’ve always been jealous of my success. I’d like to be talking about the text-book advantage played by Mark Halsey in the Spurs game, or the way Keith Stroud applied my celebrated “talk to the hand” pose when red-faced Steve Bruce complained about Sunderland’s last minute leveller. But no – the papers are too busy banging on about Ronaldo to give my team the credit they deserve.


Man City 1-0 Derby Lee Mason
Reading 1-2 Chelsea Mike Dean
Wigan 1-0 M'boro Steve Tanner
Portsmouth 1-1 Man Utd Steve Bennet
Tottenham 1-3 Everton Mark Halsey
Birmingham 2-2 Sunderland Keith Stroud
Fulham 2-1 Bolton Lee Probert

For the record, Steve Bennet got that one spot one – by the letter of the law, a head-butt from a petulant, baby-faced Portuguese prima dona who’s winking antics destroyed England’s chances at the last World Cup deserves a straight red. You’d have thought they’d be grateful, but they’re fickle sods, newspapermen.

At least it’s mainly onfield action providing the talking points thus far. Luckily I’ve yet to face the kind of scandal that simmers below the surface in this high-rolling world of Premier League officialdom. Last season there was apparently a notorious incident involving Jodie Marsh, a length of garden hose and an inebriated Chris Foy outside Boujis. That took some hushing up, so I’m told.

As for Lee Mason – superb. He’s keeping his place on Saturday, that’s a given. I predict great things for him at Craven Cottage. I can guarantee he won’t put a foot wrong.

27th August

OK – so it was never a penalty – in hindsight, as I told Rob afterwards: “Never give a penalty for Chelsea unless Terry’s got his massive ugly gob right in your face”. He’ll learn – if none of them are crowding round you, it usually means Drogba’s just fallen over again.

But I don’t see the point in hanging my key players out to dry. Do I have any regrets throwing Styles-y in at the deep end? None whatsoever. It’s a pressure cooker, Anfield, and Rob turned up the heat to nuclear and got his goolies singed. That’s Premier League refereeing, right there

Week 2

Blackburn 1-1 Arsenal Alan Wiley
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea Rob Styles
Man City 1-0 Man Utd Mark C'burg
Birmingham 0-1 West Ham Mark Halsey
Fulham 1-2 M'boro Lee Mason
Newcastle 0-0 Aston Villa Howard Webb
Portsmouth 3-1 Bolton Steve Tanner
Reading 1-0 Everton Steve Bennet
Tottenham 4-0 Derby Chris Foy
Wigan 3-0 Sunderland Mike Riley

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