Posted: 5/14/2010


      It's a Wednesday evening at the gleaming glass and steel Guardian/Observer building at the side of King's Cross Station and I am a guest at the launch of the latest 'YOU ARE THE REF' book by Keith Hackett and Paul Trevillion.

      Paul is dressed like Willie Nelson and talks like Willie sings-mesmerising!. He can't stop talking and we all can't stop listening and taking it all in. He calls his art Comic Art Realism and has been doing it for almost 70 years. Every Thursday in The Guardian  and Sundays in The Observer Paul and Keith respond to fans questions on refereeing decisions that they might have seen on the television or live in the stadiums of their favourite teams.

    You have have seen in on 'You Tube' - Paul converting a black and white drawing of an elephant into Pele in a few strokes and 30 seconds. I think it got 150,000 hits-remarkeable. He does it for us again on stage. The straight man on the podium in all this is Keith, a down to earth Yorkshireman who started refereeing in 1960 and has officiated in the Leagues, the FA Cup Final(you only get to do that once) but Spurs v Manchester City in 1981 was a 1-1 tie and he also did the replay 3-2 Spurs. Also at the 1988 Olympic Games, Champions League, European Championships and more, and has recently stepped down as head of referees at PGMOB (Professional Game Match Officials Board) to hand to his successor Mike Riley, but tours the world lecturing as an elder statesman-most recently to Africa, Asia and New Zealand.

   He also wrote his own book, Hackett's Law-A Referees Notebook and a DVD-ROM Referees Academy.

     'The pen moves the hand' not the other way round, claims Paul, a lifelong Spurs fan and self taught genius. He likens himself to Drogba and other soccer stars who perhaps can't explain their genius, but do it while other lesser mortals have to think first before they strike.  Milt Neil of Walt Disney Studios said that it took them 20 drawings to capture the magic of just one of Paul's drawings.  He used to hold, and defended the World Speed Kissing Record. He has been a stand up comedian on the same bill as Norman Wisdom and Bob Monkhouse and has been illustrating YOU ARE THE REF for 50 years in The People, Shoot Magazine and now The Observer.

     It was Paul who pursuaded Don Revie and his magnificent Leeds United team in the 1970's to do  a syncronized pre-match warm-up at Elland Rd, and to wear numbered sock ties which the players signed and later threw to the crowd. He has worked on both sides of the Atlantic for the Mark McCormack IMG Agency and elsewher, and has worked with Gary Player, Pele, Bobby Moore, Franz Beckenbauer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Sugar Ray Robinson, George Best and others. He also drew Sir Winston Churchill and had the great man sign the sketch, which now hangs in the Churchill War Rooms Museum. Read the June 2010 ESQUIRE Magazine and Paul's illustrations of footballers WAGS.

      You Are The Ref. Very popular and a must read weekly for all upcoming young referees. Keith Hackett took over from my old friend Stanley Lover and then the controversial Welsh FIFA referee Clive Thomas. 20 years ago. Look at the new book and its shows how Paul starts with a rough sketch to the finished article. Keith showed me the new series of YOU ARE THE REF greeting cards, each with a different refereeing question and answer. These are published by The Almanac Gallery is passionate about refereeing and 'The Beautiful Game' and  has done much to make the referees decisions less mysterious to the public, and indeed to the players and managers.

     After the reception Paul's charming wife Lorraine introduced herself to me and said that they lived in the countryside. I had thought that he lived alone over a jellied eel shop in the Old Kent Road until then. Long may he entertain us.