Thursday, 12 February 2015


A STERN challenge  beckons for Bobby Madley when he is in the middle for Saturday evening's Fifth Round FA Cup match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park.

He is still only 29, and  this will be  one of the biggest matches of his career to date.

It is likely to bring him face-to-face with some contemporary giants of the game, including Gerrard and Balotelli of the visitors.  

He can also be certain of a cauldron of an atmosphere  - mostly created by  the home fans, reckoned to be the noisiest (as well as the most knowledgeable) on the football scene as it is today.

Madley hails from Wakefield, near Leeds, and is no stranger to high-level football, having been officiating in the Football League since 2010 and the Premier League since 2013.

In his first match in the top flight - an encounter between Southampton and WBA, he sent off no fewer than three players.

In a match at Selhurst Park earlier this season (September 24), he sent off Mehdi Abeid in the Capital One Cup match in which Newcastle beat Palace 3-2 after extra time.

The win marked a turning point in the  fortunes of Toon boss Alan Pardew, though it was not long afterwards that he left Tyneside for Palace - a club which welcomed him with open arms.

On New Year's Day, Madley  was at Villa Park for the 0-0 draw between Aston Villa and Palace in the Barclays Premier League.

This will be his first Liverpool match of the current season.

On Wednesday of this week, he was in charge for  the Premier League match in which WBA beat Swansea 2-0.

The full list of appointments for the Fifth Round is below. Kick-off time is 3pm on Saturday February 14  unless stated otherwise.

1 Crystal Palace  v Liverpool  (5.30pm)
Referee Robert Madley
Assistant Referees John Brooks & Harry Lennard
Fourth Official Michael Jones

2 Arsenal v Middlesbrough Sunday 15 Feb (4pm)
Referee Michael Dean
Assistant Referees Stuart Burt & Andrew Garratt
Fourth Official Oliver Langford

3 Aston Villa  v Leicester City  Sunday 15 Feb (12.30pm)
Referee Mark Clattenburg
Assistant Referees Jake Collin & Constantine Hatzidakis
Fourth Official Roger East

4 West Bromwich Albion  v West Ham United (12.45pm)
Referee Martin Atkinson
Assistant Referees Gary Beswick & Stephen Child
Fourth Official Christopher Foy

5 Bradford City v Sunderland Sunday 15 Feb (2.30pm)
Referee Kevin Friend
Assistant Referees Simon Beck & Lee Betts
Fourth Official Christopher Kavanagh

6 Blackburn Rovers  v Stoke City
Referee Anthony Taylor
Assistant Referees Darren Cann & Scott Ledger
Fourth Official Andre Marriner

7 Derby County  v Reading
Referee Craig Pawson
Assistant Referees Mark Scholes & Daniel Cook
Fourth Official David Coote

8 Preston North End  v Manchester United  Monday 16 Feb (7.45pm)
Referee Philip Dowd
Assistant Referees Michael Mullarkey & David Bryan
Fourth Official David Webb

Sunday, 1 February 2015


IN his fascinating refereeing memoirs, Seeing Red, Graham Poll highlights the problem faced by officials at corners.

He writes: "The shirt-tugging, wrestling, holding, blocking and general free-for-all at corners and set pieces is a problem fo referees   - but it is not a problem for players.

"They accept it as part of the game and practise it every day in training."

He continues: "For referees, the difficulty is that there are at least three or four offences at every corner. Both sides are at it, so who do you penalise?"

Poll is refreshingly candid in his conclusion. "The easiest thing for me to do, now that I am retired, would be to deliver a stern sermon to my former colleagues.

"Yet the truth is that I didn't solve the problem when I was refereeing."

  • Seeing Red was published in paperback by Harper Collins in 2007.


 MANY thanks to the reader who has supplied these rough-and-tumble  pictures of how football might have been played in times gone by. It's not exactly the beautiful game, but everyone seems to be enjoying themselves - and not a referee in sight.