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Last Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007, 07:02 GMT 08:02 UK
When Graham Poll decided to quit
By Garry Richardson

Poll reflects on his World Cup mistake

I have been filming with Graham Poll for the past 11 months in what turned out to be his last season as referee.

You can see the results in full in a special edition of Inside Sport on BBC One on Monday night - website users can watch a preview at the top of the page.

Poll retired as a football referee after last Monday's play-off final at Wembley between Derby and West Bromwich Albion.

Twelve months previously, Poll was preparing to leave for the World Cup in Germany, having been earmarked by Fifa to take charge of the final.

Quite a leap for a man whose first match was Woolmer Green versus Anchor on 6 September 1980.

In those days Graham's mum, Beryl, had to drive him to matches because he hadn't passed his test.

One year ago it looked like his dream would come true and he would enjoy the perfect climax to a career that lasted 27 years.

But his World Cup dream turned into a nightmare.

During the Australia v Croatia group match, he booked Josip Simunic three times. It was a high profile mistake that saw Poll sent home from the World Cup by Fifa.

Nearly a year on, Poll has no idea why he made such an error and it is something that will always haunt him.

He returned from Germany to his home in Tring in Hertfordshire shattered by the experience, not knowing whether he wanted - or had the confidence - to continue refereeing.


Ultimately he decided to continue.

Monday's programme follows Poll through what turned out at times to be a highly controversial season.

There was the sending off of the Chelsea and England captain John Terry. A few days later Poll was at the centre of another storm when he dismissed Everton's James McFadden.

We capture on film the moment when Poll finally decided he had had enough and decided to retire.

The programme, I hope, shows the pressures and strains of the job on both the referee and his family.

Graham Poll
Poll tells of the moment he decided to stop refereeing
It shows the abuse and ridicule they have to put up with, sometimes for weeks, just because they have made a simple mistake.

So if the job is that bad why do they do it? Graham Poll's wife, children and his mum give a fascinating insight.

The programme shows just how tough it is to be a referee.

I hope it will also make some supporters think before they swear at and abuse referees, not just the ones in charge of Premiership and Football League matches, but also the park refs.

I am writing this article having just returned from a six-a-side tournament in which my 11-year-old son played.

It was held near Esher in Surrey and was organised by a club from Staines. It was a really well-run tournament, but spoilt at time by some parents who continually abused and shouted at the officials who were giving up their time for very little reward.

Graham Poll, a season in the life of a top ref, is on BBC ONE, 2305 BST on Monday 4 June.



Put questions to Graham Poll
03 Jun 07 |  Football
Referee Poll confirms retirement
29 May 07 |  Football
Derby 1-0 West Brom
28 May 07 |  Championship
Refs' chief denies Poll will quit
11 May 07 |  Football
Ref Poll sent home from World Cup
28 Jun 06 |  World Cup 2006
FA investigates Cole ref claims
07 Nov 06 |  Football


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