How a blast from his mum set Anthony Taylor on the path to the World Cup

Premier League referee Anthony Taylor on a recent visit to UCLan

Anthony Taylor is arguably one of the most recognisable referees, officiating in front of a billion people each weekend.

But off the field, Anthony Taylor is an avid football fan who still keeps to his local roots.

Originally from Wythenshawe, near Manchester, the 41-year-old has had a real rise through the ranks and is now refereeing in the biggest league in the world, the Premier League.

Taylor first started refereeing in 2002 but originally qualified at the age of 16 after a conversation with his mum.

Returning home from an Altrincham game blaming the referee, his mum said: “Shut up or try and do the referee course” and the rest is history.

He worked his way up the leagues over a period of eight years, starting in the Northern Premier League in 2002.

He then progressed through the Conference and Football League before reaching the heights of the Premier League in 2010.

“If you were starting out refereeing today then being full time as an aim, is one,” Taylor said.

“When I started there weren’t full time referees, full time refs never existed anywhere in the world at that point and even when I got onto the Football League list in 2005 there were full time refs in the Premier League just.”

Now 10 years as a top flight referee, Taylor is as much dedicated to his on-field work as his family life, fitting a whole week’s worth of time and drama into a weekend.

At home he is married with two teenage daughters and spends his spare time at home with them or walking his black cockapoo, Montgomery.

Since the Premier League season was suspended following the coronavirus outbreak, he has been volunteering with the NHS as well as keeping to a strict training regime for when the campaign resumes.

However, life was not always simple and clear for Taylor, as from school he went straight into work and into a tough job at that; a prison officer.

For Taylor though, the comparisons between his previous work and his current work are clear.

“I feel like the way I dealt with people as a prison officer has helped, as some players respond to different ways of communication to others.

“You have to figure out the best way to talk and work with individuals, everybody is different.”

Working his way up through the leagues, Taylor continued his work as a prison officer.

That was until 2012 when he made the jump to becoming a full time referee and left his old job behind him.

Taylor is now one of the country’s best referees and also one of Europe’s best since becoming a FIFA listed referee in 2013.

Taylor still gets to watch his beloved Altrincham FC, where he has been a season ticket holder since he was at school, but gets to more away games than home games now due to travelling for Premier League fixtures.

Anthony Taylor with UCLan Sports Journalism students earlier this year

Going to around 20 games a season, even a Premier League referee still gets annoyed at some decisions.

“Of course there is always going to be frustration at individual decisions but if we actually looked objectively at the mistakes that were made by officials, players and managers over the course of a game then the referee won’t come top of that list,” Taylor said.

Today’s Premier League referees average a rate of 98% of decisions correct each weekend, although they are subjected to lots of criticism in the press and on social media.

Anthony Taylor still dreams of refereeing at the biggest stage of them all – with the World Cup firmly in his sights.