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Dermot Gallagher | The life of an Irish referee abroad - and his broad Ringsend accent!

Dermot Gallagher joined The Football Show to discuss his life as an Irish referee in England, by ...


Dermot Gallagher | The life of an Irish referee abroad - and his broad Ringsend accent!

Dermot Gallagher joined The Football Show to discuss his life as an Irish referee in England, by way of the situation facing Mike Dean.

Dean is taking the weekend off Premier League duty after it was revealed that he had received death threats after the match between West Ham and Fulham.

Gallagher said that the situation facing Dean and his family was 'unbelievable' and that is almost impossible to imagine the thoughts going through his head.

Dermot Gallagher on verbal abuse

Referee File photo dated 02-03-2020 of referee Mike Dean. Issue date: Monday February 8, 2021.

Gallagher let us into a referee's mindset during the match, in light of the development of fan behaviour and social media.

"I can honestly tell you that during games I didn't hear anything, it was just a cacophony of sound. It just got lost.

"I live in a small village in Oxfordshire now, and they have a football team. If there is a blank weekend and I can't go away, I will go up to the village to watch. That is where I see the problem.

"If there are seven or eight people on the touchline, you hear every word - it becomes personal. So I think the hardest part with on-field abuse is when you are starting out and finding your way with very small crowds and they get stuck into you.

"Imagine being at Lansdowne Road for an international, no matter what the crowd is shouting at a referee, there is very little chance that he will hear it."

Talking to players

Dermot explained a referee's approach to talking to players, which he explained was largely a rare occurrence.

"Only when I had to. I was quite willing to interact, but I didn't want a running commentary of games. If a player by me was by me, I would talk to them, and by name.

"The biggest thing growing up growing up in Ireland, was everyone called my dad 'Paddy'. Every parent of my friends, we called them by their name. Names are precious."

It paid off, with the respect of the players at the highest level.


For those reading who might not have watched the video above, there is a notable change to Gallagher that might register with an Irish audience - as he explained.

"It's because I am talking Irish people," he says of the strong Ringsend accent.

"My best mate Alan Wiley gives me no end of stick because I have to crank it down for English people!

"When I first started on Sky TV, they were very conscious of the words that I couldn't pronounce. I had to watch the BBC News to try and practice!"

Dermot Gallagher: reffing the best

Dermot Gallagher's career ended up with him refereeing some of the best players in the world, and he had special praise for one in particular.

"Zinedine Zidane - I don't say that to name drop! - but it was in the Champions League semi-final. Picture that, the Champions League semi-final! I got the first leg of the game at the Delle Alpi - you don't want the second leg in case it's all over.

"Del Piero got the ball on the left, and he smashed it across the pitch. When it came past me it was at shoulder height and it sounded like a golf ball coming off the tee. I thought 'good luck controlling that..'

"Zidane just cushioned it with his foot, brought it down and knocked it off to Antonio Conte on the wing. I'm just thinking 'wow!'

"In one of the biggest matches in the world and he just brought it down like he was on the school playground!"

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