Thousands of soccer fans were shocked and disappointed at a Premiership match yesterday when one member of the crowd shouted at the referee in order to publicly criticize one of his decisions. The incident overshadowed the Fulham v Wigan fixture with some life-long fans saying it may put them off coming again in future.
‘It was so rude’ said London taxi driver Dave Howerd. The ref made a difficult call that went against the home team and suddenly one so-called football fan publicly disagreed with him. For goodness sake, the referee is the professional here; what do people in the crowd know?’
Overhearing the snippet of criticism, the referee Graham Poll became upset and demoralised and ran to the tunnel where he bit his lip and fought back the tears. The rest of the 20,000 crowd did their best to encourage him back with chants of ‘You DO know what you’re doing!’ while players from both side spent twenty minutes talking him round and rebuilding his confidence.
Eventually the ref restarted the match and suddenly produced the game of his life. Correct throw-in decisions, accurate off-side calls and unbelievably astute advantage played at key moments; by the end the crowd were on their feet applauding his every judgment. At the end of the match Poll did a lap of honour, carried on the shoulders of the players from both teams to a standing ovation from the crowd. ‘I know we lost today,’ said Fulham manager Chris Coleman, ‘but the result didn’t matter to me. When you witness refereeing genius like that, well you can forgive him for being a little bit temperamental. The players were humbled to be on the same pitch.’
Final Score; Fulham 0 – Wigan 1
Man of the Match; Graham Poll (Referee)