Brentford travel to Rotherham United on Saturday afternoon, hoping to build on the back of Tuesday night’s 3-0 win against Wolves. On paper, the neutral would probably mark this as an ‘away’ on their coupon. The Millers are struggling in the relegation zone whilst online bookmakers show the Bees as slight favourites. But no pre-match bet can ever factor in that most random of elements – the referee. Today’s is one who, over the early stages of his career, managed to earn himself a ban for having at dig at Liverpool (amongst the several other clubs he managed to upset).
Mark Brown is our man in the middle today and, being honest, his stats are very impressive for this season. I don’t recall him troubling us in the past whilst 71 yellow and 2 red in his 21 games over 2015/16 suggest a record that is hardly in Trevor Kettle or Keith Stroud territory . The only slight caveat being that the four he has officiated at Championship level (he is yet to grace the Premier League) have seen 16 bookings and a red.
Of course, this could just mean the Championship is a more physical place and, likewise, two of those games have involved Birmingham City. In those encounters alone, 11 of the 16 yellows, along with one of the reds, were shown.
During his first season as a referee, Brown himself was shown the red card. He received a three week ban in 2011 for making fun of then Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard on Twitter. Specifically, his highlighting the Reds’ unlikely chance of winning the Premier League that season.
The football authorities took a somewhat dim view of this although, personally, I think it simply demonstrates his excellent knowledge of football. Liverpool have struggled to win a raffle over the last 10 years but, maybe, this Sunday will be different.
Trawling the internet (or, rather, typing ‘Mark Brown referee’ into google) took me to the BBC, where November 2013 saw him upsetting Dave Kitson of Oxford United. His assessment included the terms “horrific“, “horrendous“, and “He is probably the most arrogant man I have ever come across on the pitch in my life”.
According to Burnley fan site, ‘Clarets Mad’, that debut season saw Brown “ridiculously” send off Kieran Trippier for two yellow cards. They go on to note that manager Eddie Howe (during his spell of not being a Messiah), “accused him of being too influenced by the crowd”
All of this was a while ago, of course. Brown doesn’t appear to have troubled anybody too much in recent seasons and his forays into the Championship would seem to suggest his career is now on the rise. Here’s hoping. There’s nothing worse than a card happy ref to ruin what should, otherwise, be a fascinating contest between a side fighting for survival and a Bees outfit who will be keen to show that Tuesday wasn’t a one off.
I’m full of confidence in regards to Mark. Stats don’t normally lie and those previously mentioned instances are in the past. Besides (crowbar alert) we could have Trevor Kettle ruining the show. When I said at the top end that no pre-match bet can factor in the ref, there is always an exception. And it is Kettle.
His reputation has now become so synonymous in the football world with poor performance that supporters are placing bets on his awarding a penalty / showing red today ( at odds of 6/1 and 4/1 respectively, for the record). The game is the bottom of league two clash Dagenham and Yeovil. With all to play for in a desperate struggle, could this come in…?
Whilst, ordinarily, no-one wants to see those sort of bets come in (punters aside), the pun potential of “players in hot water”, “tempers boiling over” and “T. Kettle left the manager steaming” can never be overlooked.
They are always a favourite of the Bees Player commentary team who, as I get that crowbar out once more, will be a lifeline for many today. The Bees’ travelling support has been wonderful this season but another trip to Yorkshire so soon after Sheffield Wednesday is a huge undertaking.
As such, I’d imagine today’s two man team of Mark Burridge (our commentator par excellence) and Ciaran Brett (whose punditry skills are fast growing on me and, being honest, is stronger when working in a less crowded commentary box) will have a significant audience. Certainly, I’ll be amongst them when the show goes ‘live’ at 2.30pm.
Whatever cracks were made at the top end of this column about it being an ‘away’ win, I see it as anything but a guaranteed. Simply put, Rotherham have to win given their precarious position at the wrong end of the Championship table.
Let’s just hope the Bees show the same commitment that they did against Wolves. Likewise, that Mark Brown continues the same form he has shown this season.