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Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers – or teachers,
Draughtsmen and the like; honest occupations of the
Men in black, striving valiantly to keep up with play.
You got to know their names, and where they came
From; no game without them – to arbitrate, negotiate,
Persuade and punish. Acme thunderer held twixt lips.
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They tried their best, they loved the game – not
Just themselves; The odd booking or two, if it got
Really dirty – marching orders were the last resort,
Not an easy cop out. They were men’s men; could
Swear with the best, but kept a mutual respect with
Players; they knew each others’ strengths and limits.
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Today, it’s all professional; same refs, same teams
Week in, week out…familiarity breeds contempt,
And favouritism; agents, websites, celebrity status
All at a price. The centre of media attention, so you’ve
Got to look your sharpest; designer kit, ear-piece,
Yellows and reds to the fore – a name to remember.
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The long-suffering whistler now a Match Official,
His linesmen Assistants – but weren’t they ever so ?
And with the lucre comes the ‘dissing’; pushed over,
Man-handled, abused face to face – outnumbered and
Criticised from all directions; under the microscope,
Under pressure, undermined by cameras and ‘experts’.