Seeing Red by Graham Poll, Harper
Sport, £18.99. ISBN 9780007262823.
It has become increasingly common for
referees to hang up their whistle and then
put pen to paper. This is hardly surprising
in the wake of Pierluigi Collina’s hugely
successful foray into publishing.
Then came David Elleray’s account of
how a top-flight official combined his work
as a Harrow house master, followed by Jeff
Winter’s rather more tedious account of his
life in the middle. It was therefore with some
pessimism that I picked up Graham Poll’s
In fact, whilst not a Pullitzer prize
winner, this is a surprisingly entertaining
behind the scenes foray into the pressures of
life as a premiership referee. Controversial
both on and off the pitch, the author is not
afraid of recounting his experiences with
managers, players and officials alike. Indeed
he succeeds in injecting an easy humour into
his narrative, which helps him describe what
happened at last year’s World Cup when he
performed his notorious three-card trick.
A Premier League referee since 1991 and
with ten years experience as an international
referee, Graham Poll handled some of the
toughest games in the Premiership involving
Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and
Chelsea, as well as European Championships
and World Cups – in total more than 1,500
Not surprisingly, therefore, he has
witnessed the worst of football’s excesses and
its inherent greed, as well as its characters
and glories. With such experience, he has a
wealth of anecdotes and stories which make
for interesting reading.
For all those who enjoy the ‘beautiful
game’, this is a must read as we learn about
what really goes on between the players as
they stand in the tunnel. Poll rarely lacks an
opinion and it is this honesty that makes this
book so compelling.
Freemasonry in Ulster: 1733-1813 by Dr
Petri Mirala, Four Courts Press, Dublin,
Hardback £45. ISBN 978 1 84682 056 4.
To the modern Freemason, the outright
involvement not just in politics by their Irish
brethren of the 18th and 19th centuries –
indeed actively engaging in revolution – will
seem totally at odds with Masonic principles.
But the place of Freemasonry in the social
and political history of the British Isles has
long been neglected. It is an area of research
that requires to be looked at more seriously.
Dr Petri Mirala, a Finn and graduate of
Trinity College, Dublin, has made a superb
study of the Irish Masonic movement in the
turmoil that engulfed that country during
Catholics as well as Protestants were
Masons, but sides were taken as the former
set up organisations such as the Defenders
and the United Irishmen, and the latter
joined other Volunteer movements such
as the Orange Order.
The split in Irish Masonry with the
formation of the Grand Lodge of Ulster in
1808 and its demise in 1813 is chronicled,
as is the decision of the Catholic bishops
to invoke Papal Bulls against Masonry,
previously ignored by the clergy.
Despite progress with Catholic
emancipation after the scrapping of many
discriminatory laws – a move supported
by many Masonic Lodges – the exodus
of Catholics from the Order began.
As Dr Mirala points out: “There was no
one interpretation among Irish Freemasons
of what a Mason should be, whether an
enlightened conspirator for the rights of
man, a peaceful subject concerned with
fraternal dinners and charity, or a loyal
defender of the constitution. In short, the
Masons of the 1790s were just as divided
among themselves as Irishmen in general.”
Despite its price, this book is worth every
penny, putting Freemasonry into its proper
social and political context in an Ireland
whose divisions have lasted well into the
21st century, although Irish Freemasons
today sit comfortably under one Grand
Lodge of Ireland, based in Dublin.
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