Monday, 29 December 2014


ONE of the Barclays  Premier League's youngest referees will be in charge of the New Year's Day match between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.

Robert Madley from Wakefield in West Yorkshire was  29 in October.

His first top-flight match was in April, 2013,  at St Mary's Stadium when he sent off two players of home side Southampton and one of  visitors WBA.

On September 24, this season, he  took charge of the Capital One Cup match at Selhurst Park in which Crystal Palace lost 3-2 to Newcastle United.

He has not been in the middle for any Villa matches this season but was at Goodison Park on February 1 last season for their 2-1 defeat by Everton.

For Thursday's match, Mark Clattenburg will be fourth official.

The other  New Year's Day Barclays Premier League appointments are as follows:

Stoke v Man U: Michael Oliver
Hull v Everton: Kevin Friend
Liverpool v Leicester: Mike Jones
Man City v Sunderland: Chris Foy
Newcastle v Burnley: Mike Dean
QPR v Swansea: Anthony Taylor 
Southampton v Arsenal: Craig Pawson
West Ham v West Brom: Jonathan Moss
Spurs v Chelsea: Phil Dowd

Monday, 22 December 2014


Mike Jones - beach ball incident

THE referee for the match between QPR and Crystal Palace on Sunday December 28 will be Mike Jones.

The Chester official, who is 46, was in charge for  QPR's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on  November 1  this season and Palace's 3-3 draw at Newcastle on August 30.

In October, 2009, Jones infamously made the headlines in a match between Sunderland and Liverpool when he allowed the only goal of the match, scored by  Darren Bent for Sunderland, to stand even though it had been deflected by a beach ball thrown on to the pitch by a  fan.

Under the Laws of the Game, the beach ball should have been considered an "outside agent", and Jones should have disallowed the goal and awarded a drop-ball.

He was subsequently demoted for one week to officiate a match in the Football League Championship the following weekend.

The beach ball, which had been thrown by a Liverpool fan, is now on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester.
Jones was the fourth official for the 2012 FA Cup Final in May 2012 when Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1.

Photo credit: Ronnie Macdonald/Flickr via Wikipedia Commons

Thursday, 18 December 2014


EVEN if much (if not all of it) is a fabrication, it is impossible not to chuckle at
this front page from The Sun newspaper (July 4, 1998).

Wrote the newspaper’s Royal correspondent Charles Rae: “The Queen leapt from her seat when England’s third goal was disallowed against Argentina and cried: ‘One is not amused by that.’

“She stunned guests by throwing up her hands in horror as the referee ruled out Sol Campbell’s header which would have put England 3-2 ahead with minutes to play.

“One guest who watched the World Cup game on TV with the Queen, Prince Philip at courtiers at Edinburgh’s Holyrood Palace, said: ‘She was very excited.’”

Charles Rae no longer works for the newspaper.

Monday, 15 December 2014


 Phil Dowd from Staffordshire (Photo: Mattythewhite via Wikipedia Commons)

PHIL Dowd will be man in the middle for Saturday's early kick-off fixture - Manchester City v Crystal Palace. 

The 51-year-old, from Stoke-on Trent, was promoted to the Premier League in 2001, his first being a fixture between Fulham and Everton that year.

His top appointments since then have been the 2010 League Cup Final in which Manchester United beat Aston Villa 2-1, the 2011 Community Shield Final in which Manchester United beat Manchester City 3-2 and the 2012 FA Cup Final in which Chelsea beat Liverpool 2-1.

Last Saturday, he was subject to the wrath of West Ham manager Sam Allardyce who claimed Adam Johnson had dived to win a penalty for home side Sunderland in a match which ended 1-1.

Dowd has not officiated in any of Manchester City’s matches this season, but he was in charge of the Crystal Palace v Sunderland match, won 3-1 by the visitors, on November 3.

Last season, he took five Manchester City matches, all of which they won - v Hull (2-0), v Norwich (7-0), v Swansea (2-3), v Chelsea (2-0) and v WBA (3-1).

Over the same season, he took two Palace away matches , both wins - v WBA (0-2) and v Cardiff (0-3). 

Meanwhile, Chris Foy, who was not at his best in last Saturday’s Chelsea v Hull match  has not been awarded a Premier League match this weekend. 

The full list of Premier League appointments for  the forthcoming weekend are as follows:

Saturday 20 December 2014
12:45Man City v Crystal PalacePhil DowdP KirkupD BryanN Swarbrick
15:00Aston Villa v Man UtdLee MasonS BurtA HallidayK Friend
15:00Hull v SwanseaMark ClattenburgS BeckA HolmesS Duncan
15:00QPR v West BromCraig PawsonM McDonoughM ScholesM Dean
15:00Southampton v EvertonJonathan MossS BennettD EatonG Sutton
15:00Spurs v BurnleyMike JonesR WestE SmartK Hill
15:00West Ham v LeicesterMartin AtkinsonA GarrattS ChildS Martin
Sunday 21 December 2014
13:30Newcastle v SunderlandAnthony TaylorM MullarkeyD CannK Friend
16:00Liverpool v ArsenalMichael OliverS LongL BettsC Pawson

Monday 22 December 2014
20:00Stoke v ChelseaNeil SwarbrickS LedgerM PerryA Marriner

Sunday, 14 December 2014


The book that upset the applecart
ALTHOUGH neither is  now officiating in top-flight football, Mark Halsey and Graham Poll were once two of the Premier League’s top referees.

They both come from Hertfordshire, so are they good mates? Alas, no.
According to Halsey, they have experienced a “turbulent relationship” since as far back as August 14, 1999 when he took charge of his first Premier match (Wimbledon v Coventry City) with Poll as his fourth official.

In his book Added Time (published last year), he recalls; “ I was always nervous and superstitious before a game, but that day I was even more tense on my top-flight debut.

“Graham’s imposing presence seemed to add to the pressure. I had to get over any sense of intimidation.”

The match ended 1-1, and the match assessor, Roy Capie, gave Halsey seven out of  ten - “a decent mark”.

But evidently Halsey was less than comfortable with the level of Poll’s support.

He continues: “Being a fourth official is a strange discipline.

“Some fourth officials you don’t want as they are indifferent to you and the job.

“Others will jump in the trenches and fight both for you and with you and dig you out of the mire by helping you.

“Graham Poll was not one for the trenches. I wasn’t convinced he wanted me to do well that day.”

There was subsequent friction between the two at the fortnightly gathering of Premier referees at Staverton Park where, as well as analysing videos of their performances, they were supposed to “bond”.

Recalls Halsey: “After dinner, Graham’s group would go into corner and gossip and giggle before adjourning to his room with bottles of wine.

“His disciples included Paul Durkin, Graham Barber, Rob Styles and Mike Dean, and they became known as the “Red Wine Club”.

“I was never part of it, preferring the company of men like Phil Dowd, Andy D’Urso and my room mate, Peter Alton.”

Halsey acknowledges that Poll was “a top-class practitioner of refereeing” but says he had little respect for him as a person and the way he conducted himself.

Among the reason, he cites Poll’s “cock-of the walk attitude around Staverton Park and, in his opinion, an inclination to “big himself” at the expense of colleagues, especially those whom he perceived as a threat to his being appointed to big games.

“Graham was certainly good enough to get to the top on ability alone and without the need to act as he did.

“He had no need to be so Machiavellian about things in the way he was always manoeuvring in the background, ringing up people in power and getting in their ear.”

In his own book, Seeing Red, published in 2007) Poll makes only one mention of
Halsey - that the latter, who had not yet become a referee, played in goal for Welwyn Garden City in a 2- win against Pirton in a county association cup final in 1985.

However, in an article in The Independent, following  publication of Added Time, Poll slammed Halsey for “betraying” his former colleagues with critical comments, recalling that, contrary to instructions, the latter  used to wear a Bolton kit with his own squad number to training sessions during refereeing get-togethers.

Poll is quoted as saying:"The refereeing fraternity is absolutely appalled at what he is doing. He hasn't thought it through.

"I think it is absolutely appalling. Mark has got to take a long, hard look at himself, but he won't.

 “I know the guy. I have known him for years. He is that type of character, I'm afraid.

"I would never buy the book, and I hope lots of people don't as well."

Halsey responded by saying the pair do not get on and accused Poll of letting the profession down.

Ironically, both men are now effectively excluded from any official influence within the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Ltd ), with both working as occasional media pundits where they are called on to express their opinions on contemporary football - the more controversial, the better

Doubtless the ructions must  all have been exasperating for the general manager of the PGMOL, Mike Riley, himself a former top ref, and his colleagues.

However, probably wisely, Riley declined to become embroiled in the dispute.

Both titles are well worth reading and can be ordered from bookshops or online retailers.

Poll - unimpresed by his former colleague's complaints


IN a match with few contentious incidents, Kevin Friend seems to have acquitted himself well.

Maybe he overlooked a few fouls, but his aim was to keep the game flowing.

Some of the spectators' comments are recorded on their respective fans' forum websites.

Beware some of the terminology (especially that of certain Stoke fans) is 'red card' material and should not be read by anyone who is easily offended!

Friday, 12 December 2014


A CALL has come for the top  foreign referees to be imported to the English game.

Writing in today's edition of The Daily Telegraph, columnist Jason Burt says: "It is time to add  the very best foreign referees to the to the Premier League roster.

"After all, the richest league in world football has not been slow to attract  players and managers from every corner of the globe, so why not referees also?

"If it wants to be the best, then it should attract the best."

The columnist believes  standards have slipped this season and believes home refs have been "bottling out" of awarding red cards for violent challenges.

He continues: "It seems they are refusing to take responsibility.

"May be they want to be low-key, maybe they are allowing the game to flow,  but they are neglecting their main priority which is to ensure the safety of the players and that talented play is rewarded."

Burt shares the view, held by some,  that the pool of talent here is too low and the introduction of overseas referees might encourage our own to raise their game.

He additionally suggests that some of our referees could officiate in the domestic leagues of other countries, thereby broadening their experience.

However, the columnist acknowledges that foreign referees are "far from infallible", noting that "some brutal challenges in the World Cup went unpunished".

His article does not address the administrative difficulties posed by his suggestion. Nor does he identify any individual foreign referees whom he thinks might do a better job than those already on the Premier League roster.

Monday, 8 December 2014


Low-key but effective - Kevin Friend

 A RARE visit to Selhurst Park beckons on Saturday for Kevin Friend who will be man in the middle for Saturday’s match between Crystal Palace and Stoke City.

The Leicester official’s previous visit there was on September 22 last season  when visitors Swansea won 2-0.

Since then, he has officiated at one other Palace match - the 2-2 draw with Fulham at Craven Cottage on May 11 last season.

Over the same period, he has been in charge of two  Stoke matches - the 2-0 home win against Sunderland (November 23, 2013) and the 3-0 defeat at Tottenham (December 29, 2013).

Recognised within the game as a “tidy”, efficient and below-the-radar referee, Friend, who is 44, has rarely made headlines since his first top-flight appointment on September 20, 2009, when Wolves beat Fulham. 

Honours have include being appointed for the 2012 Community Shield final (played at Villa Park)  when Chelsea  were defeated 3–2 by Manchester City, with Friend  sending off Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic for a high challenge towards the end of the first half. 

The following season, he refereed the League Cup final at Wembley when League 2 side Bradford City lost 5-0 to Swansea. 

An incident early in the second-half, when the Premier League side were already 3–0 up, saw Friend judge Bradford goalkeeper Matt Duke to have committed a professional foul. 

He awarded Swansea a penalty which was converted by Jonathan de Guzman.

One of the relatively few occasions when Friend  has been the  focus of controversy came when he sent off Aaron Wilbraham of  MK Dons (later to become a Palace player) in a League One match against Norwich City.

During that match, he issued a total of 11 yellow cards, including two to Wilbraham, disallowed a 32nd-minute Norwich goal  and dismissed an 82nd-minute penalty appeal by Norwich for an apparent handball by Wilbraham prior to his sending off.

He was also the referee in the Liverpool v Cheslea match on April 21 last year when a penalty area tussle led to  Luis Suarez biting the forearm of Branislav Ivanovic.

The action resulted in a 10-match ban for the former, though Friend had taken no action during the match, simply warning both players about their conduct. 

Much earlier in his career, when he was 16, he was assaulted while in charge of a match and considered giving up but was persuaded by his father to stick at it.

Friend started refereeing when he was just 14.

Managers who have criticised his decisions over the years include Paul Lambert, Roberto Martinez, Tony Pulis, Gus Poyet, Dave Jones and Avram Grant. 

Friend’s last match was at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday December 2 when Swansea beat QPR  2-0. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia Commons using Flickr upload by Dudek1337.

The full list of appointments for the forthcoming weekend is below.

Saturday 13 December 2014
15:00Burnley v SouthamptonMark ClattenburgS BeckJ CollinM Jones
15:00Chelsea v HullChris FoyH LennardA GarrattP Tierney
15:00Crystal Palace v StokeKevin FriendM McDonoughR GanfieldC Pawson
15:00Leicester v Man CityJonathan MossL BettsD EnglandP Gibbs
15:00Sunderland v West HamPhil DowdD BryanP KirkupD Bond
15:00West Brom v Aston VillaMike DeanJ BrooksS LongM Oliver
17:30Arsenal v NewcastleLee MasonS BurtA HallidayN Swarbrick

Sunday 14 December 2014
13:30Man Utd v LiverpoolMartin AtkinsonM MullarkeyS ChildJ Moss
16:00Swansea v SpursRobert MadleyD CannM ScholesA Taylor

Monday 15 December 2014
20:00Everton v QPRNeil SwarbrickG BeswickM PerryS Attwell


A READER has supplied this cutting from The Sun newspaper (December 12, 1997).

It is a  wacky account of an offer reportedly made by cosmetics giant Faberge-Brut to pay the Premier League £5-million sponsorship  in return for blue cards being used instead of red.

Their aim was to promote a new brand in their range of after-shave lotions.

Whether true or false, evidently nothing came of the offer.

CELEBRITY FOOTNOTE: Among sports stars to have promoted Brut after-shave in TV commercials are: Muhammed Ali, Henry Cooper, Barry Sheene, Kevin Keegan, Paul Gascoigne and, on one occasion in the 70s, the whole West Indies cricket team.

TWO years later, the Football League suggested that an orange  final-warning  should be introduced as final warning to players who had received two yellow cards for non-contact offences such as encroachment at free-kicks or time-wasting. However, this proposal was also rejected -  as was a further recommendation that ice hockey-style sin-bins should be adopted as an alternative to sending off a player.


During an eventful playing career, Scottish striker Matt Tees scored a hatful of goals for Airdrie, Grimsby Town, Charlton, Luton and Boston United. Here he recalls some of the highs and lows (including one sending-off) of his playing days in the 60s. He is the brother-in-law of fellow-Scot Charlie Wright who played in goal for Workington, Grimsby, Charlton and Bolton before becoming a manager.



Despite taking Crystal Palace to a Carling Cup semi-final, Dougie Freedman
has yet to establish himself as a manager - his spell at Bolton ending in disappointment. But he had a colourful playing career (including a red card from  Andy D’Urso) at Barnet, Palace, Wolves, Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Southend United. This revealing account of his playing days includes action photographs        from the Getty archives. 


Originally a miner from Prudhoe, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Billy Callender became a popular and long serving goalkeeper for Crystal Palace with a knack for making brilliant penalty saves. Alas, his life ended in a tragedy which rocked the world of football.


Copies of the above titles are  available from Amazon or can be ordered  from bookshops, but the low-cost option (just £2 each, including postage) until January 5, 2015 is via ebay Buy-it-now.

Matt Tees:

Dougie Freedman:

Billy Callender:

Sorry, we don’t know where readers can obtain a copy of the title below. It’s out of print. That's a shame - it would be worth buying just for the front cover picture!


By most if not  all accounts,  Lee Mason had a superb match at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

The Palace fans were particularly impressed.

The Spurs fans were less forthcoming - but that's probably because they were in angst over their team's lacklustre performance.

Saturday, 6 December 2014


APROPOS  (good word!) of the row over a sexist remark that upset  Michael Oliver and girlfriend Lucy May  (Today’s Referee, November 27, 2014), many thanks to the reader who has supplied a cutting from The Times newspaper (September 14, 1999).

This reported a Nationwide Conference match between Kidderminster Harriers and Nuneaton Borough - the first senior match in England in which all three officials were female.

Wendy Toms (36) was in the middle, with Janie Frampton (38) and Amy Rayner (24) as her two assistants.

The players seemed to take it in their stride, but did the 3,000 strong crowd?

Alas not. Very few minutes had elapsed before the ribaldry began with a chant from an away fan of: “Who’s the slapper in the black!”

It was not the first time the trio had appeared together. They had officiated previously in a women’s friendly in which England beat Finland 3-0.

Were any cards issued in the Conference match? Yes, Toms, an office manager from Poole, issued four yellows.

Other national newspaper also covered the event, and The Daily Telegraph repeated a quote attributed to high-profile manager Ron Atkinson when, 10 years earlier, he is alleged to have said: “Women should be in the kitchen, the disco and the boutique - but not in football.”

Final score: Kidderminster 1, Nuneaton 2.