The Return Of Mark Halsey

Yes this is a sports blog and ultimately I do write about sport.

Though occasionally I like to focus on the bravery of people within sport, Lance Armstrong and Sir Bobby Robson, immediately spring to mind.

This man is no different, well I guess he is, this man is Mark Halsey (pictured above) and this courageous human being is different, he is the man in the middle, the man we all love to hate.

For those among you that aren’t aware of Mark, he is a professional football referee, who has officiated in the English Premier League since 1999 and has also been on the FIFA International list of referee’s since the turn of the millennium.

This is not a blog about his Premier League standing or refereeing abilities, but as with most referee’s they’re loved when they give your team a decision and disliked by all when they make a poor decision.

Mark is no different and I think he will always want it that way. His career statistics make for reasonable reading I feel, have a look at them below;

Season Games Total Booked Booked per game Total Red card Red card per game
1997/98 42 161 3.83 5 0.11
1998/99 46 111 2.41 2 0.04
1999/00 38 96 2.52 8 0.21
2000/01 33 101 3.06 10 0.30
2001/02 37 118 3.18 7 0.18
2002/03 34 75 2.20 6 0.17
2003/04 41 81 1.97 5 0.12
2004/05 32 60 1.87 2 0.06
2005/06 38 54 1.42 6 0.15
2006/07 42 103 2.45 9 0.21
2007/08 41 86 2.09 5 0.12
2008/09 44 73 1.65 3 0.06

Though admittedly it doesn’t include right or wrong decisions, it proves he is a consistent referee who officiated many a game at the top-level of his profession.

Sadly, in August of last year, this all changed for Mark and it is on this point, that I wanted to write this blog. I feel an official in any sport deserves respect, but Mark has gained this in abundance following his fight with cancer.

Yes, Mark, who diagnosed with cancer of the throat last year and his battle has been a courageous, determined and spirited fight. Back this up with the family owning and running a restaurant (believe me that is difficult enough on its own) and the fact his battle coincided with his wife, Michelle’s, own battle with leukaemia.

Safe to say, it was a difficult period for the Halsey family (pictured below).

Mark has successfully fought his cancer battle and is now in remission, with this in mind he is eagerly wanting to return to the game he knows and loves.

He attended the recent fixture between Bolton Wanderers and Arsenal, receiving warm embraces wherever he went on the day.

He was recently quoted in an interview saying “I’m hoping to be back early in the new year and I can’t wait.” This shows his hunger is a strong as ever.

The support for Mark has over-whelmed him, as he also added, “a lot of the top players and managers have been in touch”,  this goes to show that the ‘beautiful game’ is not as selfish and cold as many make it out as.

Good luck in your return to the game Mark and well done with your successful cancer battle, it gives hope to many who suffer in the world today.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Keith Hackett, the referee’s chief, this sums it up for me;

“He’s become an iconic figure for all referee’s”

Very true indeed. Mark is aiming to raise £50,000  for: The Christie Charity raises funds to help provide additional services and undertake vital research for our cancer patients. As one of Europe’s leading cancer centres, treating more than 40,000 patients a year every penny really does count.

So why not give now at http://www.justgiving.com/Mark-Halsey

Thanks for reading.

Cheers.

Gaffers

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