Search for your sports books:

Featured Publisher: John Blake
Apart form its current publications, John Blake Publishing has a sizeable back list of acclaimed sporting titles. These include biographies of stars such as Roger Federer, WG Grace, Fernando Torres and Frankie Dettori. For more information, visit www.blake.co.uk



Read Review
<back to archive

The Man in the Middle The Autobiography of the World Cup Final Referee By Howard Webb

Release date: 10th November, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

List Price: £18.99
Our Price: £13.60
You Save: £5.39 (28%)
Buy Now

Football might be renowned as a ‘funny old game’, but such is the current obsession with figureheads that top-flight managers are becoming ‘brands’ in their own right. There’s already an elite group readily identified by their first names, amongst them Jose, Pep, Jurgen and Arsene; it’s the type of instant recognition on which marketing agencies will happily spend millions of other people’s money achieving, yet these guys attain it by virtue of doing their day jobs.

Yet if the cult of the manager is an easy-ish concept to understand, that of the referee is more difficult to comprehend.

It probably began a few years ago when the dome-headed (and extremely good) referee, Italian Pierluigi Collina, was amongst the first to be instantly recognisable. Whether he set out to do this is a matter of conjecture, but recently, we’ve seen Premier League referees such as 41-year-old Mark Clattenburg and Michael Oliver, ten years his junior, differentiate themselves from their peers, knowingly or otherwise.

In Clattenburg’s case, a series of football-related tattoos were inked onto his forearm, while Oliver had his barber shave a couple of go-fast stripes into his hair directly above his ear. What either man thought these moves would do for their credibility is anyone’s guess.

It’s difficult to imagine Howard Webb, who refereed the Champions League and World Cup finals, being so ostentatious. Webb, a down-to-earth, thoroughly decent chap, was a no-nonsense official in the Jack Taylor mould, a man who, like Taylor, a Wolverhampton butcher, had a ‘real’ job away from football.

His autobiography, The Man in the Middle is, in many respects, precisely what you would expect: solid, humorous in parts, sprinkled with occasional industrial language. There’s very little of what might be termed ‘look at me’ narrative, primarily because Webb was an official who simply got on with his job in the hope that he helped the flow of whichever game he was officiating.

Webb is very good when it comes to identifying those things fans forget about, such as their often stilted relationships with managers (a good thing) and the enormous pressure referees are under. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can give them flak, usually with the benefit of a dozen slo-mo replays, but guys like Webb must get it right first time; and, more often than not, they do.

You fancy Webb would hate to think that his book propelled him into the burgeoning list of z-list celebs; it won’t because this is a thoughtful, often engaging, autobiography.


<back to archive


Toolstation


SBOTM Current Top 10

The Hardmen: Legends of the Cycling Gods By Frank Strack
Pursuit Books
Read Review Buy Now
The Descent By Thomas Dekker
Ebury Press
Read Review Buy Now
The Fall of the House of FIFA By David Conn
Yellow Jersey Press
Read Review Buy Now
Gentleman and Player The Story of Colin Cowdrey, Cricket’s Most Elegant and Charming Batsman By Andrew Murtagh
Pitch Publishing
Read Review Buy Now
The Premier League: 25 Years By Lloyd Pettiford
Urbane Publications
Read Review Buy Now
Johnny Haynes Portrait of a Football Genius By James Gardner
Pitch Publishing
Read Review Buy Now
The Billionaires Club: The Unstoppable Rise of Football’s Super-Rich Owners By James Montague
Bloomsbury Sport
Read Review Buy Now
True Professional The Clive Sullivan Story By James Oddy
Pitch Publishing
Read Review Buy Now
Crazy: My Road to Redemption By Chris Lewis
The History Press
Read Review Buy Now
Fearless Freddie The Life and Times of Freddie Mills By Christopher Evans
Pitch Publishing
Read Review Buy Now

Amazon’s top 6 best-sellers

© Sharks Media Ltd 2004 – 2012. Site designed and maintained by Marcus Hamblett for Furydesign.