If you had asked me 20 years ago if I ever thought a woman would be running the line in the Premier League, or refereeing in the Football League, I would have said "not in a million years as they have not got a clue about football".
Before you all write in to have me sacked I'd like to say things have changed, including my opinion. Not only have women achieved those positions, I find them better than their male counterparts. Maybe it is because players give them a little bit more respect.
To give you an idea of how accustomed to female officials I have become, when the story broke I remembered we had a female referee's assistant at one of our recent games. But I couldn't remember which game, or who she was. I had to have it looked up. It was Sian Massey, at Burnley a couple of weeks ago. It was the second QPR game she had done this season. I've never had a problem with Sian and I found her forerunner, Wendy Toms, more than acceptable. While I'm sad to see Richard Keys lose his position, because I've always found him very easy to deal with, if there is anything good to come out of this week's furore it is that the cause of women officials has been given a big boost.
I think women are in football to stay and I can honesty envisage the day when we have a female referee in the Premier League.
In a similar vein, if you'd told me I'd have a female physiotherapist working for me I would have said something sarcastic, but at Palace I was introduced to a young lady in Sangi Patel. When she was made redundant in the summer I didn't hesitate in offering her the assistant physio position at QPR.
There might have been raised eyebrows around the staff room, and indeed the players, when she turned up but myself and Nigel Cox, the head physio, can't praise her enough for the job she does in a really tough man's world. I think it helps having her around at times, though there have been one or two away games when I have felt like apologising to her on the bus after an angry post-match post-mortem.
Why should us men be surprised that women are capable of doing these jobs? Many have been doing a fantastic job at home for years, and I don't mean that as a joke. Every now and again I'm reminded of how difficult it is, like this week when Sharon has been away for the last four days so I have been looking after the kids. Getting William up, washed, dressed, breakfasted, cleaning his teeth, finding his shoes, wondering where his tie has gone, leaves me exhausted by the time I drop him off at school.
2. Muscat's madness brought back a lot of painful memories
A name from the past brought back a lot of unhappy memories this week. Kevin Muscat had been sent off for a horrific challenge playing for Melbourne Victory. It was as bad a challenge as I have seen. I must have been fined at least a couple of times for having a go at him regarding injuries to my players. Some of the incidents with him I have never been able to understand why.
The daft thing is I have always thought he would have been one of the best full-backs in the country if it was not for this red mist. He's got an eight-game ban which takes him to the end of the season and, I hear, the end of his career.
3. I know how Harry felt, I've been robbed across the world
I read last weekend about Harry Redknapp being robbed of everything in his pockets when he went to see Atletico Madrid play. It can happen, and I know. When I was at Sheffield United I went to Istanbul to see a centre-half playing for Turkey against Switzerland in a World Cup play-off about five years ago. His name was Alpay, Aston Villa fans will remember him.
As we were queuing up there was a big surge. I'd kept my hands in my coat pockets, but I took them out for a second to steady myself and my phone was stolen. I suspected this guy in front with a big overcoat. I had a Turkish guy with me and he grabbed the bloke but the thief opened his coat to show he had nothing. I was told he would have passed it to an accomplice. What can you do?
I could understand how Harry must have felt, when you lose your phone you feel sick. My night didn't get much better. Inside it was very tense as Switzerland lost 4-2 but went through on away goals. I was sat amid thousands of Turkish fans and by the end I was waving a red-and-white scarf above my head to blend in.
At full-time, there was a mass brawl on the pitch with the Turkish lads kicking and punching the Swiss. Alpay was right in among it throwing a few good right-hooks for which he got a long ban. I actually met him after the game in the hotel and I was surprised to find he was a nice guy, I suppose he said that about me as well.
I also got done in Vietnam when I went to watch China play, also for Sheffield United. I was walking down the street and a little old lady, she must have been about 80, stopped sharply in front of me. I had to check and bumped into her. I apologised and off she scuttled, only for me to find within a couple of minutes all my money had gone out of my pockets.
4. The ref denied a penalty to keep the game interesting
Of all the games this week the one I enjoyed most was Blackpool v Man United. At 2-0 it was fantastic, what a scoreline, what a shock was on the cards. Then just after half-time the commentator said Peter Walton, who was referee, had had Man United 18 times and they had never been on the losing side. I had to smile at that and, sure enough, within 60 seconds Luke Varney was brought down for the most obvious dead cert penalty you could imagine. If converted I'm sure Blackpool would have gone on to win the game. A couple of papers wondered what the decision would have been had it been at the other end. We'll never know, but Blackpool didn't get it and United went on to stage that incredible comeback to stay unbeaten.
Sir Alex made his presence felt when, in front of the dug-out, there was a tackle made by Charlie Adam. The referee was obviously not going to book him when up jumped Sir Alex saying his player had been booked for a tackle. What does Walton do? He makes a late decision to issue a yellow card.
United's comeback, after surviving that penalty appeal, took me back to when I was playing at Scunthorpe and reffing in the local leagues. One Sunday I did a game at an RAF camp in horrendous conditions. One team, despite kicking up the slope, got into a 3-0 lead. Just before half-time they had a certain penalty. I thought to myself, "if I give this it'll be 10-0 in the second half and I won't enjoy it all". So I didn't give it. You all know what happened next. In the second half the other team scored four goals to win the game. I went quickly and quietly to my car after the game. I remember telling the home club secretary to keep my expenses for the club coffers. He was grateful, but it was the only way I thought I could compensate for what I had done.
5. What's wrong with Ollie taking a transfer cut? I did
What a hullabaloo over Ian Holloway taking a percentage of transfer fee sales. There's nothing new about that. I had it in my contract at Notts County two decades ago. In my case it was because my basic salary was low compared to everyone else in the division, that's possibly the same with Ian.
If he has an incentive to get the highest possible fee for his players it not only helps the club, it satisfies the chairman and board, too. It doesn't mean you are going to want to sell players because it weakens your team and if your team isn't strong enough eventually you'll be out of a job altogether.
Ian's certainly been in the news. I'd love to speak to the committee that fined Blackpool £25,000 for "fielding a weakened team". I'd ask them why, when Liverpool played 10 reserves at Fulham a few years ago – enabling Fulham to get the result that kept them up – they didn't fine Liverpool.
6. Nothing like a trio of star turns to get you on your feet
Amy was in a performing arts night at school. She recited a poem and sang the Peter Pan song: "The Second Star to the Right." It brought a tear to Sharon's eye. It does when they're your kids.
Will's highlight was on the rugby pitch on Wednesday. He got the ball right in front of me. I said "go on son", and he ducked and dived through tackle after tackle to score a try. I jumped up to celebrate just like I did when Wayne Routledge scored our winner against Coventry last Sunday.
7. Some players have lost sight of values Lofthouse stood for
What a wonderful send-off for Nat Lofthouse this week. It was great to see how well-attended his funeral was. He was always a gentleman whenever you met him. Nat was in the same mould as Bobby Robson, Bobby Charlton and Jimmy Armfield. It's hard to think of many others like them.
And talking of much-admired centre-forwards, I see Emmanuel Adebayor is saying Real Madrid is the best club in the world. I bet that's endeared him to fans of Manchester City and Arsenal.Reuse content