Anorak News | A Sending-Off

A Sending-Off

by | 13th, May 2003

‘SO farewell David Elleray, the man in the black with the schoolmasterly manner and the disarming expression.

‘Off to detention with you’

He’s a Housemaster at Harrow school, don’t yer know. Of course you do know, because it is one of those facts that every commentator and his dog trot out on sighting the referee.

But we won’t be seeing him in his black shorts again, because the man has just retired, hung up his whistle and put his little back book to bed.

From his first football league experience, running the line in 1983 at a Southend versus Walsall game – when he disallowed a goal for the home side about 10 minutes into the game and the chant of ‘kill the lino’ went around the ground – Elleray has been in the thick of it.

He once had to abandon a match at Maine Road, when the home team was winning 2-0. Back in December, he showed Everton substitute Wayne Rooney the red card late in the 1-1 draw at St Andrew’s for a foul on Birmingham’s Steve Vickers.

And who can forget the magic moment when Elleray red carded Dennis Irwin because, having received one yellow card, the Irishman ran a ball back across the touchline.

Irwin was duly suspended and missed the 1999 European Cup Final versus Bayern Munich in Barcelona.

But Elleray has never been card happy. It’s just that we know who he is, so we notice what he does.

Aside from the Thing From Tring, the unlovely Graham Poll, little is known about the 23 men who have refereed games over the past Premiership season.

What we do know can be distilled as follows. Uriah Rennie: black belt in some martial art, big and the first black referee in Premier League history.

Graham Barber: a friend of Gary Neville. Paul Durkin: small, ginger, bares a suspiciously close resemblance to Paul Scholes. Andy D’Urso: fails to stand ground when confronted by vein-popping players.

And that is it.

These are the non-people of the most hyped, commented upon league in the land. And let’s leave it that way. Indeed, let’s just give them numbers and do away with their names.

So goodbye Number 5, you were a man in black – much like all the rest, only better.

Posted: 13th, May 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink