by Russell Kempson, The Times

As the working week starts, Dave Allison could be forgiven for quietly humming the lyrics of "I Don't Like Mondays", the famous UK No.1 hit single from 1979, when he arrives at his office in Preston. It is when his first shift of the week gets underway, when he deals with any refereeing issues from the weekend's games.

But for the experienced former referee it's all part of the job. "OK, so the guy didn't have a good game, it happens," Allison says. "But that doesn't make him a bad referee. Just like when a player makes a defensive mistake or misses an open goal. That doesn't make him a bad player. He learns from it, he moves on. That's what we do."

Allison, 61, is the Professional Game Match Official's (PGMO) National Group Referees' Manager, a post he has held for the past two years. He looks after the majority of referees, their assistants and the assessors in the Coca-Cola Championship, League 1 and League 2. If there is a problem, if a discreet word is required, he is your man.

Dave draws on his vast experience. As a Football League linesman from 1977 to 1980; as a League referee until 1997, when he retired. And as a respected man in the middle when the Premier League became reality in 1992. In total, he reckons he officiated in more than 600 matches.

As a divisional manager, he spent three years coaching Premier League referees; before that, he was a part-time coach for League referees. Allison has been there, seen it, done it and got the PGMO tee-shirt.

"There's nothing I haven't done," Allison says. "I certainly don't feel I'm vulnerable in that respect. It's not that I'm asking the guys to do anything I haven't done myself. The game is much faster now, every game is televised, there are no hiding places. Every key incident, every controversial moment, is picked up by the cameras.

"It is difficult to be anonymous and referees are now more accountable. I would just like to see a bit more understanding from the media and public. I'm not an apologist for referees, I will not defend the indefensible. I always look to explain things, to have dialogue between myself and the managers. I think it's working."

Around 40 years ago, Allison almost gave up before his refereeing career had barely started. He dismissed a player in a West Lancashire League match and received an unexpected response. "He thumped me on the chin," Dave recalled. "He said that if I was going to send him off, he'd make it worthwhile.

"It did make me think whether it was all worthwhile. I'd only be refereeing a year and I did wonder whether it was something I wanted to continue doing. But people told me that it was just a one-off, that it wouldn't happen again. And it didn't.

"It's always been harder on the local parks and perhaps it's not changed that much there. It's where our young referees are on their own. There's no stewards, no police, no one to help in their moment of need. It's tough out there."

Allison keeps a close eye on his men. Two seasons ago, he watched all 57 at least once; last season, he missed four. This season, he's trying to get to all 59. "I'm on the trail again," he says. "If the geography falls right, I should be able to do it."

Apart from his League duties, which meant driving 40,000 miles last year, Dave is training officer for the Lancaster and Morecambe Referees' Society. "I'm trying to bring through the next generation," he says.

Away from his League duties, he likes visiting the theatre, and he recently returned from a get-away-from-it-all walking holiday in France, in the Provence region, with his wife, Sheila. Back at the office, there is a familiar refrain. The Boomtown Rats, Bob Geldof: "Tell me why I don't like Mondays, tell me ..."