This week saw the professional passing of Graham Poll – a man I’m sure that many people would love to see the back of – good riddance, hasta la vista, you could even send him send him 3 leaving cards. Poll and controversy have seemingly been bedfellows for eternity with headlines following him as frequently as a Drogba dive. Graham Poll will be remembered, demonised and ridiculed but almost certainly not missed – except that is by me:
Monday night a saw a documentary that highlighted this much maligned figure as a likeable, confident, articulate and surprisingly sensitive human being - how many footballers can we put in that bracket?
One comment (in the doc) that summed up Poll’s profile comes from the effeminate co-com voice of Mark Lawrenson in another piece of inspired journalism, “I’m sure that Graham Poll will have the last word,” when describing an on-field altercation. Nothing wrong in this comment you might say – but why shouldn’t refs have the last word. Why should the Rooney’s, Keane’s, Ferguson’s have sole moaning rights both before, during and after the game. Lawrenson isn’t the only pundit who criticises referees but co-commentators and pundits are typically ex-players with axes to grind when it comes to the men in black and referee barracking is a tiresome cliché even for a washed up ex-pro like Lawro .
Since his “passing” Poll has been criticised in many quarters for having the audacity to question Brian Barwick and the FA with many exposing him as an attention seeker. He has also been described as an arrogant and publicity obsessed whore with no thoughts about the consequences of his hideous personality. If that is the case then what adjectives do we use to describe Jose Mourinho, Joey Barton or career breaker turned new media darling Roy Keane?
Let’s think about Graham Poll - he didn’t start an illegal war on false pretences followed by a farewell tour, didn’t commit perjury - he didn’t even lie. My message to Graham Poll is this: Yes you made some mistakes, yes you liked the limelight but yes you were the best in the profession and for that I would like to thank you Mr Poll and apologise on behalf of the fans, yobs, media, players and managers who abused and continue to abuse you. I wish you a lucrative and long overdue break from the game that you love – you deserve it – unlike many in the corrupt and poisoned chalice profession that is football. You may even have a biography worthy of the name.