Picked up Graham Poll's book last weekend and read it pretty quickly, mainly to get it out of the way and finished. While the subject matter was fascinating, I found Poll to be a desperately insecure character from start to finish, constantly in search of confirmation of his abilities and -- quite understandably - crushed by the appalling mistake of handing out three yellow cards during the World Cup.
That incident has been picked over time and time again. Poll doesn't say this, but I think I know why he made the mistake of writing in his notebook that he booked Australia's number three instead of Croatia's Simunic. The match - a nasty, dirty affair in which Poll was constantly being berated by the Croaitians - put Poll under more pressure than he had ever experienced.
But the book is not a pleasant read. Poll finds enemies, real and imaginary, at every turn. Everyone's out to get him, the media, fellow refs, footballers, managers, and he retreats into a defensive shell.
That said, I thought Poll was a fine referee, one of the best in the world. It was just a shame he reached that peak by developing an unpleasant arrogance.
I met Poll once at a World Cup press day in 2006. he mentions the day in his book. He doesn't mention that while I chatted to him as a journalist I mentioned I was a lowly park referee. His reaction: to laugh and indicate clearly that I was a bit of a joke because I'm overweight. Graham, I may be fat but at least I don't hate the world.