ANYONE know who George Clancy is?
How many have heard of Shavir Tarapore or Simon Taufel?
How about Howard Webb?
Now we’re talking.
And talking, and talking, and talking about a referee who gets more said and written about him on Sunday and Monday mornings than most players.
In case you were wondering, the others are referees or umpires of similar stature and experience in sports which offer decent protection and working conditions for their officials.
George Clancy refereed the England v Scotland rugby union international at Murrayfield on Saturday.
The other two have been part of the umpiring team in Dubai for England’s 3-0 humbling in a three-Test series ‘by Pakistan.
But their profiles are as nothing compared to that of Howard Melton Webb.
Google search Australian cricket umpire Simon Taufel, for example, and you get 164,00 results.
Google Howard Webb and you get 16,800,000.
No-one really notices the officials from any of those other games and there is a screamingly obvious link and reason why.
When Umar Gul and his Pakistani teammates scream for yet another lbw decision against England’s hapless best-team-in-the-world-batsmen, Simon Taufel gets on the blower to Savir Tarapore in the stand who checks the TV replays to make the right decision. When Greig Laidlaw was a fingernail short of a try against England in the Calcutta Cup clash the television match official ruled - after countless replays - that the fly-half had just failed to touch down.
But Howard Webb has to decide on his own, linesmen aside, with one imperfect view whether Ashley Young had his shirt pulled or Danny Welbeck tripped himself up rather than Branislav Ivanovic.
It’s just not possible for one man to get all those key decisions right.
Would the sports of cricket or rugby - both traditionally more old-fashioned and hidebound than football - go back to one or three pairs of eyes with no review system?
Don’t think so.
The sooner we get TV cameras involved in football’s big decisions the better.
Listening to the England game at Murrayfield on Saturday when the TV ref held the Laidlaw inquest was almost as nerve-jangling as a penalty shoot-out.
Imagine if we were to go to the TV ref in the dying embers of a life-or-death Wednesday v United promtion play-off perhaps?
Unbearably tense and exciting or just a boring delay as some TV evidence detractiors would have us believe??
It’s way past time for football to get real and FIFA are talking of some ‘limited’ experimentation with cameras.
But that’s not good or quick enough.
Eventually we will look back on this camera-less era in an age of unprecedented electronic sophistication as perverse and ridiculous.
Getting the decision right with the help of a replay will not diminish a referee’s authority.
It will increase it.
When Howard Webb or any other ref gets the message that Danny Welbeck could have avoided Ivanovic or that Ashley Young DID have his shirt pulled he will know his decision is dead right.
That matters more to referees, fans and players than any tradition or FIFA ego.