THERE was a weird sense of pride back home when Howard Webb (pictured) was given the referee’s armband for the World Cup final.
Never before has a nation more used to throwing coins and spitting at officials rallied round the man in the middle. It was almost as if his selection meant we’d won the World Cup for refereeing.
And to be fair to the tabloids, they’re sticking by their man who has been targetted as enemy No.1 by the entire Dutch population following their country’s 1-0 defeat to Spain.
The fact that the players had clearly been ordered to “leave no leg unhacked” seems to have escaped them. Instead they think Webb’s wrong decision to not give them a corner a minute before the goal was the only reason they’re not still celebrating.
Presumably they also think Xabi Alonso should have been sent off for viciously chesting Nigel de Jong in the studs. Webb was always on a hiding to nothing in a cynical match dominated by argumentative players but got the bulk of his decisions right under extreme pressure.
So we might not technically be the official World Cup champions, but we are the officials World Cup champions. Frankly, we’ll take what we can get.