Wed. Aug 21st, 2019

Premier League referee Jon Moss Q&A: Music and football

“I sang in a band – badly – called Power Sleep. I played our ‘big hit’ record to some family recently. They said ‘Who is this? It’s rubbish!” Referee Jon Moss on his musical pedigree

The Premier League is back! But spare a thought for the top flight referees, who will be under more scrutiny than ever before.

We already know how Mike Dean escapes the pressure of officiating at the highest level – by giving it loads in the away end at his beloved Tranmere Rovers.

Now his colleague Jon Moss has opened a record shop in Leeds – wonderfully called ‘The Vinyl Whistle’ – so BBC Sport went to meet Moss to talk music and football…

First up – a quick-fire music Q&A

Top three tracks?

  • Pixies – Debaser
  • The Courteeners – Not 19 Forever
  • Oasis – Talk Tonight

Top 3 bands?

Top 3 gigs?

  • The Courteeners at Heaton Park recently – a really great laugh
  • First ever ‘T in the Park’ in 1994 which had Blur, Oasis and Crowded House. Woohoo!
  • Shed Seven in Leeds a few years back – just a brilliant gig.

Who is in your fantasy referee band?

  • Me on guitar and vocals (badly)
  • Martin Atkinson on drums
  • Michael Oliver on bass guitar, looking moody
  • Graham Scott on lead guitar as he came up for the name for the shop.

That’s a great band. We’re called ‘Yellow, Red’.

What’s your tracklist for this season?

  • Catfish and the Bottlemen,
  • The Courteeners
  • Oasis
  • Black Sabbath
  • Take That – I like to go out to ‘Greatest Day’ What a tune that is!

Guilty pleasure?

Take That. We went to see them a couple of years back. Someone gave me some tickets – we didn’t pay for them – what a show it was. Greatest Day. I’m not into that kind of music, but I love that song.

And Miley Cyrus, The Climb. What a tune that is! My daughter likes to sing it to me occasionally just to really annoy me. But what a tune.

Which grounds have the best music?

When we do our pre-match routine we go out for a warm-up about 2.30pm. The best ever soundtrack warming up was at Rochdale. It was all the Indie Classics. You’re trying to do your warm-up and they had Stone Roses, Oasis, into a bit of Joy Division, back to New Order. It was just the perfect soundtrack to warm up to.

Stoke City used to have Eminem. Everyone was really pumped up going out and then you had to referee the game!

And Barnet play Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses. It’s an all-time classic isn’t it? You can’t go far wrong. When I hear that song now I’m thinking ‘Barnet’, I’m thinking about the car park I used to park in five miles from the ground, it was a long walk carrying my big heavy bag. But as long as Sweet Child O’ Mine is playing, that’ll do for me.

Do your colleagues share your musical taste?

We’re a team of officials so we tend to work with the same officials every week. I always offer them the opportunity to put things on the soundtrack. If it passes my stringent tests and measures then it makes it on there.

But I draw the line at the Lighthouse Family!

Tell us about your shop

It’s got a big collection of vinyl records. I’m a big indie fan so it’s primarily indie, dance, jazz.

I wanted to create a record shop that people would be genuinely excited about coming into. I don’t think there’s a better indie section in Leeds.

For example. I was after this band called Flamingoes. They had an album out with a song on it called ‘Disappointed’. Every record shop I went into I looked for this record.

We went on a weekend away to Dublin. For me, it was one of the best weekends away we ever had – not because of anything we did, but because I went into a second-hand record shop in Dublin. I went into the ‘F’ section like I do every time I go into a record shop, looking for this poisoned chalice – and there it was!

It caught my eye and the excitement and buzz of that – that’s what I want to replicate in our record shop.

Where do you source the records from? Are they your own collection

I would never sell my own collection, that’s safe at home!

We source it from all over. As a referee I get to go all over the country – so I know all the record shops from all over the country where there are Premier League grounds.

You’d be amazed how many people have got things – they walk past us, look and come in and say ‘oh I’ve got a collection at home are you interested?’ and they bring it in.

Occasionally we get some fantastic records.

A guy came in with the full back collection of Stone Roses which didn’t even look like they’ve been played.

I was trying not to get too excited. My refereeing comes in handy for that – I’ve got that poker face. I was thinking ‘that’s one for me, that’s one for the shop’.

How did you come up with the shop name?

The Vinyl Whistle. We played around with a number of different things. Do you incorporate the day job as well or is it too cheesy? Some might think it is, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of cheese. There was a group of us referees at St George’s Park. We’re having lunch. The referee’s together, throwing words out there. We had some shockers.

There was a lot of ‘Red Cards’ and ‘Yellow Cards’; one about football pitches; a really weird one about dimensions on the pitch that no one would have known. And then all of a sudden Graham Scott – one of the referees who worked in journalism before he became a referee – said ‘How about Vinyl Whistle?’

It sounds right and on reflection, I am proud of being a referee and I am proud that we have the interest as well. So it just feels right.

You go to a lot of live music – do people recognise you at gigs?

The gigs I tend to go to and the bands I like to watch, like The Courteeners, it’s generally a football crowd, so they come over and start talking to you about football.

Then the band start singing and a mobile phone comes in your face ‘can I have a selfie’.

Coming back from a gig last week and we were at a taxi rank. A guy comes up to me and says ‘It’s you isn’t it? It’s Dave Moss that Premier League referee’.

I just said, ‘Yeah, that’s me, ‘Dave’.

Does music help with the stress of the job?

I think with any high pressure job you have your own mechanisms to switch off from it. For me, going to a match, I have music in the car, on the train or if we’re flying.

Leaving the match, if a game has gone particularly well then I have a different soundtrack. What we don’t want to do is listen to talk shows on the way back analysing decisions, so it’s good to have some mechanism to switch off and do your own reflections.

Is the scrutiny of refereeing more intense now?

Definitely. The feedback we get as referees has intensified over the years. If you go looking for things on social media you will find it. I don’t have any social media accounts. All I do is referee the games, do the best I possibly can, come back and switch off. I don’t want to bring stuff back to the family – they’re not interested.

My children might see things sometimes on social media and get annoyed but I just say to them ‘don’t worry about it – it’s no big deal’.

What’s your musical history?

I’m having an argument with my son at the minute – he’s into his dance music but I’m sure I can convince him guitar bands are the future. It’s a battle that’s ongoing!

I’ve got my youngest two children – they’re in the band with me. I’ve played in a band – badly.

The band had a shocking name – Power Sleep. We had a couple of little songs out, we supported some decent bands, but we weren’t very good. I played guitar badly, I sang a bit, really badly. We wrote our own music, quite a few songs actually.

Our ‘big’ hit – big amongst us – was called ‘Funny How’. We’ve got it on a CD somewhere and I played it to some family. They were like: ‘Who is this? This is rubbish.’

FA Cup final or Power Sleep at Wembley?

After a lot of back and forth about who the support band is for Power Sleep, which ends with the hypothetical answer “Oasis, reformed”… Moss answers:

It’s a tough one that. For any English referee the biggest game is the FA Cup Final is a huge honour. There’s nothing better than that for me.

Even if the crowd are singing ‘Funny How’ at the top of their voices?

You’ve obviously not heard that song for a start, or my shocking singing voice. I doubt anyone would be singing that back at us. But I’m still as bad as I was many years ago. So I’m going to stick with the FA Cup Final. And Oasis would be only be squabbling and probably spoil it for me!

Referee Jon Moss in his record shop in Headingley, Leeds

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