Soccer Refereeing. A Personal View – Jack Taylor


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 Cruijff during the half-time break for persistent dissent. Of course, Taylor can boast other achievements too, such as the 1966 FA Cup Final and the 1971 European Cup Final. He also wrote a book of his memoirs (which I will deal with later) and this thin book, which was supposed to make youngsters enthusiastic about taking up refereeing as a hobby.

I’m not sure that goal was achieved, for although he does strike the right note in the first chapter, the rest of the book is somewhat dry. Well, I did read this 1978 publication with 2015 eyes, so it might be me…

As said, in the first chapter Taylor relates how he got into refereeing. A customer in his father’s butcher shop persuaded him using these simple lines: “Go on, give it a try. If you don’t like it, no big deal. But I think it will be to your liking.” And the rest, as they say, is history. The rest of this short work Taylor spends explaining how he deals with the stress of refereeing and providing tips and pointers how to handle various situations. Handling players with greatly varying character traits and how to deal with club officers, managers and the whole media circus surrounding a match are other subjects on which Taylor touches.

Value for active referees

Reasonably good.

The first chapter should be read by every aspiring and starting referee. These days you have a lot of people saying that reffing looks good on your CV and is the fastest way to climb the football ladder to the top even if you’re not good at playing it. However, hardly any word is said about the road to the top being strewn with disappointment, letdowns and setbacks and that it takes character, mettle and perseverance to reach that highest rung. Taking his own career as an example, Taylor does a great job of making this clear yet manages to stir interest in the hobby.

For the rest, Taylor gives good tips about positioning and handling difficult players, even though some of it is dated since the introduction of new laws and new insights taking over. Still, referees just starting their way up will definitely find useful hints in this book.


Jack Taylor in the 1974 World Cup Final

Final say

What with the later chapters putting too much emphasis on the laws of the game, Jack Taylor’s book is somewhat dry, but it does contain valuable nuggets of advice for aspiring men in black. Setting out in a painfully honest way that refereeing will not suit everyone, the first chapter makes for obligatory reading.

This book can still be found in second-hand bookshops, but expect to do some digging. A good place to start would be Abebooks.

Title  Soccer Refereeing. A Personal View
Author Jack Taylor
Publisher Faber and Faber
Year of publication 1978
Number of pages 96
3.5 / 5     

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