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Seeing Red [Paperback]

Graham Poll
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Jun 2008

The most high-profile referee this country has ever seen, the controversial and opinionated Graham Poll, exposes the myth that referees are the game’s silent men, and opens the lid on the shocking and often unbelievable world of football that few outsiders get to see. Fully updated paperback edition with new chapters.

Seeing Red is Graham Poll’s incisive insight into football from his prime position as the man in black, the one in control, the eye that sees all. A Premier League referee since 1991 and with ten years as an international referee, Graham Poll has handled some of the toughest games in the Premiership involving Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as European Championships and World Cups – in total over 1500 matches.

What is it like to referee the biggest matches in international football? What really goes on between the players in the tunnel before a match and in the dressing room after? Who are the nastiest footballers? And the funniest? Who is the smartest manager? And are the bureaucrats ruining the beautiful game?

Controversial and opinionated, Poll has crossed swords with some of the biggest names in world football and shares private conversations with the likes of Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Sepp Blatter and Steve McClaren, and the inside story behind controversial incidents involving Roy Keane, David Beckham, Patrick Vieira and current England captain John Terry, among others. Poll also talks about the infamous 2006 World Cup match when he failed to send off a Croatian player after three yellow cards in a crucial tie against Australia, returning home early in disgrace and with his career in meltdown.

The games, the players, the managers, the suits – the most outspoken referee in the modern game tells it as it really is.

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Seeing Red + Who's the B*****d in the Black?: Confessions of a Premiership Referee + Added Time: Surviving Cancer, Death Threats and the Premier League
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSport (2 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007262833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007262830
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Undoubtedly Graham Poll has been this country's top referee over the past ten years' Sir Alex Ferguson

‘England’s No 1 match official has lifted the lid on the disillusionment shared by many colleagues’ Daily Mail

‘Poll's fascinating response to years of criticism as one of England's top officials is far more interesting than the standard fare trotted out by most players these days - it also evokes the rarest of things in a football fan: sympathy for the referee.' 442 Magazine

About the Author

Graham Poll was born in 1963. A one-time employee of Nike – where he turned down a Sales Directorship to pursue a refereeing career – he has over 27 years of experience as an FA Premier League and international referee. As well as refereeing the 2006/07 UEFA Cup final, he has been the English representative at two World Cups and Euro 2000, and has handled games from the Bernebeu to the San Siro, and from Old Trafford to Stamford Bridge. He retired from professional refereeing in the summer of 2007.

Mick Dennis has worked as sports editor of the Evening Standard and football correspondent for the Daily Express. In his spare time, he is also a football referee.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So you think you know Graham Poll? 20 Aug 2007
Well let me tell you, you don't! This is a terrific book, from both footballing and non-footballing point of views. This is not one of your typical footballing biography's. It has pace, pathos and literal integrity. A real page turner, full of mixed emotions that will have you welling up, laughing out loud and outraged within a single page.

Seeing Red reveals not only the true face of football, from grass roots level to Fifa; but the complete chaoses, greed, incompetence and utter nonsense that surrounds the 'professional' game today.

A man obviously driven by passion, personal achievement, and a complete love of football (to almost obsessive proportions); Poll takes us through his 26 year career and towards the ultimate outcome of his 2006 World Cup. The dispear he suffered both personally and professionally in front of the worlds press, is here for all to witness, as well as the motivation he needed to get back on the pitch only a few weeks later. A real, real human story. Loved it, and so did my mum!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The referee's a banker! 20 Aug 2007
Every football fan has an opinion about Graham Poll, and none of them favourable! But this book introduces a very different man from the one we thought we knew when he was the country's top referee.
He is funny, self-deprecating and very human. Well, he is in this book.
Of course it tells the story of his infamous three-card trick at the World Cup, but builds up to it in such a way that, when it happens, the reader can understand what a devastating blow it was for Poll.
So this is not only a football book. It is a story about striving to achieve something and then having to deal with humiliating failure.
But of course it is a football book as well, and gives revealing glimpses behind the scenes fo the game.
Chelsea supporters should definitely read it. They might think very differently about their captain and manager.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Opiniated Poll 16 July 2008
On his retirement as a referee it would appear that Graham Poll as chosen to write a book not about his life but as an opportunity to put his side of the story about many of the controversial episodes in his refereeing career. Fair enough. Unfortunately though, this gets a bit wearing after a while and, as a result, I found this book it to be a little dull.

It gets off to a slow start when far too much time is spent going over the events of a now largely forgotten Chelsea v Spurs game from a few years ago and, to me, really picks up after that.

Amongst football watchers, Graham Poll was never the most popular referee in the game, and this book makes it clear that he wasn't held in very high regard by many of his fellow referees neither. Whilst he says that much of the dislike was unfair, on reading this book I can understand why as he comes across as being very opinionated and, at times, self important.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars book review 23 Nov 2011
I really enjoyed this book. Mr Poll is very honest. I guess that's what made him a decent referee and, whether you like him or not, it's a real insight to what being a referee is about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Book from a Top Ref 6 Feb 2008
As parks refs, we all like to imagine what it would be like to control one of the big games. Mr Poll brings it to life - laying bare the emotions as well as revealing simple methods he used in different circumstances.

I expected to be informed: I hoped to be entertained: I didn't expect to be moved. I got all three in spades.

To lose out on a genuine shot at refereeing the World Cup Final due to one massive technical error, after having displayed the quality of English refereeing to the watching world. 'Pollie' doesn't try to hide away, exposing the anguish of that incident and displaying it alongside everything else he achieved in the beautiful game.

Lots of insights and plenty of opinions - well what else would you expect from GP. A cracking read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting! 13 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very interesting insight to the mind of an international referee. As with all Autobiographies a little self-indulgent at times, but a good read nevertheless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining 6 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an interesting book, and is very easy to read.

It is in a way, quite depressing as it reflects badly on today's society, the media, the totally useless football authorities and the players themselves. And as a qualified ref, I fear the worst for English refereeing, given the appalling lack of support the FA gives even its top referees.

The book pulls no punches, and its interesting to see what happens behind closed doors, particularly concerning John Terry and Jose Mourinho, two equally unpleasant characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Polls Apart 24 May 2009
Graham Poll has written an excellent book about the role of the referee in modern football. It's a lonely one. Only the brave, foolhardy, or possibly, demented individual with a love of the game would wish to referee at the highest level. The more so since they are subject to unwarranted levels of abuse which are frequently unpunished by the ruling authorities.

By his own admission Poll failed at tournament level and that failure was highlighted by television. So what's new? I saw a Chilean player (Sanchez) punch an Italian opponent, breaking his nose, right in front of referee Ken Aston in the 1962 World Cup and he wasn't even booked!! It gave me the idea of becoming a referee. The verbal abuse from ignorant spectators soon kicked that idea into touch.

That ignorance has passed from generation to generation, as Poll recalls a torrent of abuse from a West Ham "fan" following a match in which the Hammers lost. That Poll's wife was present did not a produce a modicum of manners or moderation of language from the disgruntled fan. On other occasions Poll was forced to leave a hotel because of the hostility of "fans". Managers, most notably Jose Mourhino, were allowed to get away with intolerable levels of abuse. Mourhino's false claims about Anders Frisk forced the Swiss official out of the game following death threats from Chelsea "fans".

Similar attempts by the same generation of Chelsea players led to the ridiculous incident when some fabricated the tale that Poll had said he had wanted to teach Chelsea a lesson. The dilatory way in which the FA dealt with the incident disillusioned Poll and probably most other referees. Perhaps UEFA will be stronger.

The rules of football are clear the referee is the sole arbiter of fact on the field.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like refereeing of any kind, you will like this
Very seemingly honest account of his career. As a sports official myself, I especially liked the depth that he went into regarding the climb to the top and the various factors that... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Mr R J Stokes
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, well written and v honest.
An enjoyable book. Just shows that you don't have to be a robot to be very good at an important job. Also interesting to discover the attraction of being a referee.
Published 1 month ago by Mr Gary Lucas
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Being an ex referee I found this an interesting book and confirmed my thoughts on Graham Poll. He was always quite controversial and continues to express interesting views in the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. G. W. Goring
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
A journey well told I loved the fact graham has a sense of humour it's just a shame the football world hasn't got one. Great read
Published 5 months ago by Jason
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
A real insight to the life of a referee. A eye opening read which is a brilliant read. Fully recommended
Published 5 months ago by Jonty Farmer
4.0 out of 5 stars A view from the other side.
It's a thankless job which a million others know better, but if done correctly you can be invisible. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Paul Farrer
3.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood?
Firstly I didn't realise it had been six years since Graham Poll retired. I liked Poll, I always thought he was firm but fair. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr John A Whalley
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic insight into the world of refereeing
Poll gives a great insight into the small world of elite referees. He brings all the issues, pressures, highs and lows on board but also lets us the fans, the players, and the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ed Jie
5.0 out of 5 stars TOP BLOKE
Honest and at times a touch of arrogance to the chapters but also revealing the intense pressure at the top. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ray Reeves
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
I've just passed my Refereeing Basics Course, but haven't yet been 'referred to'. After reading this I feel like I'm going into refereeing, not with my figurative eyes open (I can... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Steph
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