All reviews

All books

Hi, Sorry this site has been quiet for the past few months. I was busy doing other stuff and simply didn’t have the time to read much. Don’t worry, I will soon resume writing reviews again. What I did do, though, was add to my list of All Books the – many! – titles that I […]

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40 Years in Football – Ivan Sharpe

Outline Keeping his chapters brief, Ivan Sharpe relates his memoirs of “40 Years in Football”, first as a player and later as a journalist. His anecdotes and stories harken back to the early days of football. Logic dictates that his reminiscences relate mostly to British football, but he also takes his 1954 readers across many […]

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The Football Association 1863-1883: A Source Book – Tony Brown

Outline As the title suggests, the author of this book has consulted a variety of old sources to commit to paper the earliest history of the Football Association. That history does not, incidentally, start in 1863, the year the FA was established, but way earlier. Long before 1863 there were many sets of rules and […]

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Jeff Winter

Who’s the B*****d in the Black? – Jeff Winter

Outline The English referee Jeff Winter (1955) could hardly have imagined the turn his career would take when he was a “boot boy” in the ranks of the Middlesbrough hooligans in the 1970s. A far from happy childhood and this “hobby” were threatening to push his life in the wrong direction. However, seeing the hard, […]

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Fluitend door de wereld – Whistling through the World – John Langenus

Outline To my knowledge, this fragile, weather-stained book (printed in WWII, so the paper is of sub-par quality) is the first set of memoirs ever written by a football referee. Belgian John Langenus’ principal claim to fame rests on his being the referee of the final of the first World Cup in 1930. In this […]

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Leo Horn and the 1974 World Cup – Leo Horn

Outline Just over 40 years ago the Orange Machine lit up the world, astounding it with “total football”. If people are wondering at the bickering, whining and extreme attention paid to football these days, especially in the run-up to a World Cup, they’d be surprised to learn it was not much different 40 years ago. […]

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The Man in the Middle – Mervyn Griffiths

Outline Benjamin Mervyn Griffiths was a contemporary of Arthur Ellis, whose Refereeing round the World I reviewed here some time ago. While Ellis became something of a celebrity due to his mannerisms and thirst for recognition, the modest Welshman Griffiths depended solely on his fairness and exceptional fitness, and it took him right to the […]

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Soccer Refereeing. A Personal View – Jack Taylor

Outline John Keith Taylor, better known as Jack Taylor, is best known for officiating the 1974 World Cup final during which he awarded a penalty in the very first minute of play, creating World Cup history, as it was the first penalty kick ever awarded in a World Cup final. He also, famously, yellow-carded Johan […]

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Soccer Referee: A guide to fitness & technique – Clive Thomas

Outline Known as “The Book” for his strict interpretation of the laws of the game, Clive Thomas is one of the better known British referees from the 1970s and 1980s. My Dutch readers may remember him as the somewhat high-handed referee who sent off Willem van Hanegem at the 1976 European Championships or the referee […]

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Refereeing round the World – Arthur Ellis

Outline A typical example of a 1950s biography: short chapters in which the writer (assisted by Kenneth Wolstenholme, a well-known sports reporter from the time) looks back on the highs and lows of his career. Although it serves the readability of this consequently short book (195 pages only), it does mean Ellis’s account does not […]

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Twee keer geel is rood (Two yellows make a red) – John Blankenstein

Outline Twice I had the pleasure of meeting in person John Blankenstein, who passed away nine years ago, almost to the day. He was an insightful, empathic man, who chose his words carefully but managed to work some humour in there anyway. He carried this characteristic over into this small book, using this medium to […]

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Masterclass for Soccer Officials – Stanley Lover

Outline A former referee, FIFA referees instructor in all six football confederations and chairman of the London Referees Association, Stanley Lover enjoyed the respect of many throughout the latter part of the 20th century. Not least because he also authored many refereeing classics, including Soccer Match Control, an excellent book which not only explains the […]

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I’ll have a ref, thank you – by: Jan Vorstenbosch

This essay was published over two years ago (early 2013) in Dutch daily Trouw. The author is Jan Vorstenbosch, a philosopher and football expert. A researcher at the University of Utrecht, he also teaches ethics there. In 2010 he published “Voetbalgek”, his philosophical reflections on all things football. Jan reacted with great enthusiasm to my request […]

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Whose Side Are You On, Ref? – Norman Burtenshaw

Brief outline Not the best-known British referee from his time, Norman Burtenshaw still spent 11 years reffing at football’s top level and was awarded the 1971 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Liverpool. It shows he must have been quite capable after all. His memoirs mark him out as a rather strait-laced person, not atypical […]

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Play to the Whistle! – Jim Wiltshire

Outline Jim Wiltshire was the referee of the 1947 FA Cup Final. This appointment marked the end of a long career on the pitches of England, which career had been broken by World War II, as was the case for many in football at the time. Wiltshire’s account is interesting in that it started in […]

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The Referee’s a W*nker – Chris Turner

Brief outline A former professional player turned poet and song-writer, Chris Turner still frequents the stands at Southend United. The chants and rants he hears (and utters?) there have been the inspiration for a number of poems, one-liners and riddles/word puzzles, about 40 of which have been collected in this anthology, interspersed with plenty of […]

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How to Referee

If you’re reading this, chances are you are or at some point were an active referee. Have you ever stopped to think how easy it has been for you to become a ref? Regular courses, good instructors, mentors, plenty of books available, feedback at referees’ associations… You name it. Now imagine how that was in the […]

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Interview: Fox 40

This interview first appeared in a Dutch local referees’ magazine. It is reprinted here with permission.   How long have you been making whistles? Who are the founders? Ron Foxcroft, Founder & C.E.O., Fox 40 International Inc. Ron Foxcroft, the man behind the first pealess whistle, was recently named by Referee Magazine as one of […]

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Interview: Simon Topman

This is the English translation of an interview which first appeared in a Dutch local referees’ magazine, which explains references to other articles. It is reprinted here with permission.   As recounted in the article about the history of the referee whistle, the first one ever to be used in an official football match, was […]

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One more then

Thanks to Stephen from @collectfootball, I can now add a fourth language to my ever-growing collection of refereeing publications. This one is a booklet from 1947, printed in what was then still the USSR: Futbol: Pravila Igry It’s small, but isn’t it so that the greatest things come in small packages? Oh, it deals with the […]

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New titles

Got me a few new – old – titles again! This time there’s a definite German overtone… Markus Merk & Oliver Trust: BeWEGEnd: Merk & More (2005)   And it even came with a complimentary yellow card:  Then there’s this title: Schiedsrichter im Fussball by Carl Koppehel (2nd edition, 1955) The last German title is […]

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Elite Level Refereeing in Men’s Football: A Developmental Sociological Account – Sharon Colwell

Outline This dissertation earned Sharon Colwell the doctor’s title from the University of Leicester. I say ‘earned’ not without reason, for the sheer amount of work that went into this publication was huge. Wading through reams of old minutes and documents, preparing and conducting tons of interviews and sifting through endless books in stuffy libraries, […]

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Knight of the Whistle: The life of top referee Ralph Tarratt

Brief outline In the UK, the 1950s are considered, by many, the golden age of refereeing. The country yielded a bumper crop of great referees, many of whose names still live on years hence: Arthur Ellis, Mervyn Griffiths, Ken Aston, Reg Leafe, Jack Clough… Perhaps this is a cloud of nostalgia working its effect, for […]

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Oh, Ref! – Pat Partridge

Brief outline On 31 October 2014, Pat Partridge, 81 years of age, passed away. His career in English and international top football spanned a period between 1966 and 1981, during which the Northerner with the impressive sideburns and easy-going, talkative manner lived through an age of remarkable changes, to which he added a few himself. […]

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About RefereeingBooks

This whole thing got started a few years ago, when through a string of coincidences I suddenly found myself in the possession of a number of books about football and refereeing. Then, the number was still small... Unfortunately (or maybe not), I was bitten by the collecting bug and now my stack of books has grown to sizeable proportions. Read more >>