The cultural stigmatisation of referees is still relevant today | Jonathan Liew

A new novel based on Uriah Rennie – the Premier League’s first and only black referee – has reopened an age-old issueIn one of the most memorable and moving passages in Your Show – the new novel by Ashley Hickson-Lovence based on the life of Uriah Rennie – the Premier League’s first black referee is scrolling through a selection of internet comments and press coverage on some of his recent performances. “Too big for his Fila-sponsored boots.” “In my picture book dictionary under ‘showy referee’.” “The penny never dropped that the match wasn’t about him.” “A Malteser Sellotaped to a bag of marshmallows.”On it goes, for pages and pages. Your Show is a remarkable book: highly stylised, written in the second person and – although based on extensive interviews with the man himself – largely imagined. Yet the most affecting parts of the novel are the stuff we know happened. The title of the book derives from an announcement made over the public address system at Deepdale as the officials emerge from the tunnel during a match between Preston and Crystal Palace: “Enjoy the second half of the Uriah Rennie Show.”

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