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Harrigan: The referee in a league of his own

By By Dale Budge

Published: 1:18PM Monday October 18, 2004

Bill Harrigan was the greatest referee the rugby league world has ever seen, possibly the greatest official sport has seen.

The subtitle of his book Harrigan probably sums up his life in the public eye - "the referee in a league of his own".

When Harrigan retired from refereeing at the end of 2003 after being in charge of the Penrith Panthers v Sydney Roosters grand final the curtain came down on a career that made him as famous as any player he controlled with the whistle.

In his book, author Daniel Lane gives graphic detail of the life of a bloke many of us knew on a footy field but knew little about off it.

There is a great deal more about Bill Harrigan than a head-strong referee that was often referred to as 'Hollywood' by rugby league folk.

He was a devoted family man and a police officer prior to his rugby league days.

In Harrigan the now 44-year-old gives his accounts of all the dramas 18 years of refereeing first grade, grand finals, State of Origin and test matches as well as some interesting stories of his life in the Police force and his thoughts on the game.

Harrigan reveals the thoughts of an analytical man who knows rugby league better than any - he should too - he had the best seat in the house.

He lifts the lid on his high profile arguments with Broncos and Queensland skipper Gorden Tallis as well as explaining why he sent four Parramatta players to the sin bin in one half of football in 2002.

Perhaps the best part of Harrigan is a section where he nominates his dream team - made up of players that he has controlled since 1986, and an ultimate sledgers team to go with it.

There is even one famous sledger who still plays in the NRL.

If you want a book about rugby league and what goes on out in the middle, this is a read for you.

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