June 18, 2024
Fat Alan Wiley with Alex Ferguson

Who ate all the pies?

Howard Webb in a Manchester United Shirt
That picture, as if you haven't seen it enough already

They say everyone has their fifteen minutes of fame. Unfortunately, in my case, it’s more slight notability, not for my rapidly deteriorating Wigan Athletic weblog, but as the creator of that Howard Webb image. You know, the one on all the back pages of today’s papers and all over the national newswires?

All I can say is thank you, Ryan Babel. The FA and Howard Webb may not be happy, but I’ve been walking around with a crazed grin on my face the whole day, garnering a fair few strange looks at work and on the bus. I could tell them why, but who would believe me? And why on earth would they care?

As some form of proof, click the above thumbnail for the full quality image resourced from my original Photoshop file. The reason I downscaled the picture (the low resolution jpeggedness is perhaps most evident in this enlargement), originally posted on my now-defunct Retro Yakking blog back in 2009, was for web optimisation but also to mask the fact it’s a pretty poor image edit. I knocked it up in half an hour or so, hence the obvious ‘shop quality.

Much like Babel himself, I owe an apology to Howard Webb. Also much like the Dutch international, the picture was created and posted in the heat of the (albeit rather extended) moment, in my case following Manchester United’s 5–2 defeat of Tottenham in April 2009. In the aftermath of a memorable game, I posted an article –tongue-in-cheek, of course– suggesting he might just have favoured the Red Devils just a little bit in his awarding of a generous, and highly important, penalty to the hosts. Check out this quote, which might well have been misattributed to Mr Webb:

Manchester United were never going to win without a twelfth man, so I took it upon myself to become an honorary Man U man for the evening. Can’t say I liked it much — mixing with the peasants was an unpleasant experience — but you have to do what you have to do.
— Retro Yakking, 26 April 2009. ©Blogdog, formerly Today.com

It was all in good humour. If you’re reading this, Mr Webb, please understand there are no hard feelings, just a cheekiness and eagerness to poke fun – the very ethic of Retro Yakking. The blog’s host went offline in the latter half of last year and with it went all my posts for the company, including the one containing the offending picture. However, it seems a bunch of Tottenham fans picked up on it the moment it was posted and spread the thing (abomination?) around the internet. When Mr Babel entered ‘Howard Webb Manchester United’ into Google Image Search, one of the first results would have been my poor Photoshop, which he promptly tweeted.

To be honest, until someone mentioned the incident at work I’d forgotten all about it. It isn’t one of my better image edits, slightly worse than, say, this:

Fat Alan Wiley with Alex Ferguson
Who ate all the pies?

So you can probably imagine how surprised I was to see the Webb image again. Anyhow, I bet you never expected a post such as this, eh? Breaks the monotony of the match reports blog this site has become, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Finally, I also feel I must apologise for playing a small part in Babel’s FA reprimand. But Ryan, I thank you for brightening my day, nay, week.

Dan ‘Harry Yack’ Farrimond

2 thoughts on “From the creator of ‘that’ Howard Webb picture: An apology

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