Kudos to any referee who takes the abuse from the big time charlies who are paid a lot more.
It's a very honest book, and Poll details many incidents that occured during his time as referee including the infamous Chelsea spat he had with John Terry. I don't think you'll get a more honest footballing book, and especially not one about referees. The abuse he got for it made him lose his love for refereeing and that's a shame because mistake or not, Graham was one of the top ref's in England until that incident. Yes, it offers home truths about what managers and players can really be like but it also shows the good side to refereeing, what it's like to referee Manchester United vs Arsenal or an International game. I'd definitely recommend football fans to read this book, and next time people want to berate a referee, try thinking how you would feel if the same happened to you!
The book starts at his lowest point, the World Cup match where he showed a player the yellow card three times. Lots of detail, but I would think, of very little interest.
So, as Poll points out, the referees don't want to make mistakes but they are only humans doing a very difficult job.
The book comes over a little bit like someone complaining after the event, however. I know this is unavoidable because professional referees haven't the opportunity to be as critical as Poll is whilst still involved in the game, but it felt a little like someone unloading all their grievances (most of which are justified) now they have the opportunity to. This criticism has a lot to do with Poll's 'game management' style and it reminded me of my experiences whilst teaching.
When you consider that Graham Poll was a referee for a whopping twenty-seven seasons, it's something of a shame that he will always be remembered as the referee that showed a player three yellow cards in a World Cup game before finally sending him off. They're usually all pretty similar, and only worth reading for the occasional bit of juicy gossip about other teams and/or players. But Graham Poll was not a footballer, he was a referee, and that's the crucial selling point of this book.
I can honestly say this book has changed the way I look at referees and I will definitely pay close attention to the latest FA "Respect" campaign. His story made me think about the overweaning role of the media and how big (big) money has has changed the game just over the course of his career.
This autobiography inspired me to become mentally strong, both on and off the soccer field.
Overall, I recommend it for sports fans, particularly ones who follow the EPL, and football (soccer) fans in general because it gives you an insight into what the world of refereeing is like.
He continued to referee in the Premiership, Champions League and on international games, but said he would not allow himself to be nominated to represent the FA at any tournament finals as he felt he had his chance.