(Auto)biographies and memoirs

40 Years in Football – Ivan Sharpe

Outline Keeping his chapters brief, Ivan Sharpe relates his memoirs of “40 Years in Football”, first as a player and later as a journalist. His anecdotes and stories harken back to the early days of football. Logic dictates that his reminiscences relate mostly to British football, but he also takes his 1954 readers across many […]

Jeff Winter

Who’s the B*****d in the Black? – Jeff Winter

Outline The English referee Jeff Winter (1955) could hardly have imagined the turn his career would take when he was a “boot boy” in the ranks of the Middlesbrough hooligans in the 1970s. A far from happy childhood and this “hobby” were threatening to push his life in the wrong direction. However, seeing the hard, […]


Fluitend door de wereld – Whistling through the World – John Langenus

Outline To my knowledge, this fragile, weather-stained book (printed in WWII, so the paper is of sub-par quality) is the first set of memoirs ever written by a football referee. Belgian John Langenus’ principal claim to fame rests on his being the referee of the final of the first World Cup in 1930. In this […]


The Man in the Middle – Mervyn Griffiths

Outline Benjamin Mervyn Griffiths was a contemporary of Arthur Ellis, whose Refereeing round the World I reviewed here some time ago. While Ellis became something of a celebrity due to his mannerisms and thirst for recognition, the modest Welshman Griffiths depended solely on his fairness and exceptional fitness, and it took him right to the […]


Refereeing round the World – Arthur Ellis

Outline A typical example of a 1950s biography: short chapters in which the writer (assisted by Kenneth Wolstenholme, a well-known sports reporter from the time) looks back on the highs and lows of his career. Although it serves the readability of this consequently short book (195 pages only), it does mean Ellis’s account does not […]


Whose Side Are You On, Ref? – Norman Burtenshaw

Brief outline Not the best-known British referee from his time, Norman Burtenshaw still spent 11 years reffing at football’s top level and was awarded the 1971 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Liverpool. It shows he must have been quite capable after all. His memoirs mark him out as a rather strait-laced person, not atypical […]


Play to the Whistle! – Jim Wiltshire

Outline Jim Wiltshire was the referee of the 1947 FA Cup Final. This appointment marked the end of a long career on the pitches of England, which career had been broken by World War II, as was the case for many in football at the time. Wiltshire’s account is interesting in that it started in […]


New titles

Got me a few new – old – titles again! This time there’s a definite German overtone… Markus Merk & Oliver Trust: BeWEGEnd: Merk & More (2005)   And it even came with a complimentary yellow card:  Then there’s this title: Schiedsrichter im Fussball by Carl Koppehel (2nd edition, 1955) The last German title is […]


Knight of the Whistle: The life of top referee Ralph Tarratt

Brief outline In the UK, the 1950s are considered, by many, the golden age of refereeing. The country yielded a bumper crop of great referees, many of whose names still live on years hence: Arthur Ellis, Mervyn Griffiths, Ken Aston, Reg Leafe, Jack Clough… Perhaps this is a cloud of nostalgia working its effect, for […]


Oh, Ref! – Pat Partridge

Brief outline On 31 October 2014, Pat Partridge, 81 years of age, passed away. His career in English and international top football spanned a period between 1966 and 1981, during which the Northerner with the impressive sideburns and easy-going, talkative manner lived through an age of remarkable changes, to which he added a few himself. […]



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About RefereeingBooks

This whole thing got started a few years ago, when through a string of coincidences I suddenly found myself in the possession of a number of books about football and refereeing. Then, the number was still small... Unfortunately (or maybe not), I was bitten by the collecting bug and now my stack of books has grown to sizeable proportions. Read more >>