With Brentford now knowing who they’ll face in the Championship next season, we’re also aware of who will be in charge of those games. With visits from former Premier League outfits Newcastle United and Aston Villa on the calendar along with the all important West London derbies against Fulham and the Loftus Road mob, the man in the middle is sure to be more important than ever before. Season 2016/17 brings changes to that role.
Today’s Last Word is brought to you by none other than regular correspondent Bernard Quackenbush. Sharing the apprehension felt by many when we get to see who is going to be wielding the cards and whistle, he gives us a rundown on just what we can expect. There’s good news. And bad.
Not surprisingly, the words Kettle and Stroud appear.
Bernard Quackenbush writes…
“Next season, there will be two big changes which will effect all Championship teams. The most significant of which will be that emergency loans will be no more. So once Jim White, football’s answer to Brian Blessed, shouts that the transfer window is shutting, there can be no more trading until January!
The other, lesser change, is the one that interests me more, and I have been asked by Nick to talk about today.
For some time now there has been an elite list of referees who have officiated in the Premier League, known as the SG list. Last season it was announced that there would be a new SG2 list of referees who would ‘predominantly’ ref Championship matches only. The big difference is that these referees will become professional and enjoy the same privileges and access to facilities similar to their Premier counterparts. This has been needed for some time and really became very obvious last season. Numerous iffy and inconsistent displays by referees and an injury list of officials similar to our own, made any kind of planning in the referee ranks, virtually impossible.
So that’s the background. So why am I so fascinated by this area of football? Ever since I was a child I understood that these villains in black were just as important as the players. Some were bad, and some were awful, occasionally one may be OK! So I wanted to know more about them. They came from the oddest places too, usually Cotswolds hamlets or Yorkshire mining villages or places with seemingly ridiculous names like Great Bookham. For example, in my mind Lester Shapter never came from Devon, he was from Torquay! Sadly, a policy change meant that these villains in black (after all that is the colour villains always wore), meant that the hamlets and villages were no longer listed and instead the County FA’s where they are registered were listed instead. Yet in this day of the interweb, a bit of digging and a basic grasp of cyber stalking skills, one can still find out that Charles Breakspear comes from Walton-on-Thames (although I imagine someone will now tell me he is from Virginia Water or similar).
So what of this SG2 list. Who made it, who did not? In all there were 31 applicants to the list, with only 18(eighteen) spaces available. There would also have been some strong candidates who decided not to apply because they did not want to give up the day job of being a traffic warden, or similarly heinous job. (Apologies to any traffic wardens’ but I work in Childrens Social Care, so I can trump everyone in most despised occupations!).
The bad news first….Keith Stroud.
Quite possibly the most consistently awful and incompetent card happy referee that has taken charge of a Bees match, is on the list. I was hoping that he would get promoted with Stuart Attwell and Paul Tierney to the Premier League, but he is stuck with us. I may be over wishful and optimistic in my thinking that I can imagine him being considered a senior member of the group along with the usually competent Simon Hooper, and may end up taking charge of more than his fair share of Newcastle United and Aston Villa games rather than the likes of us Huddersfield or Bristol City.
There are a number of positives to the list with a number of names not appearing on it. NO Keith Hill. NO Trevor Kettle. NO Gavin Ward and also no sign of messrs Webb, Malone, Boyeson, Brown, Collins, Handley or Williamson. Also no sign of the much maligned ‘Deadly’ Darren Deadman, who showed one of the most human and commendable acts by a referee, when not booking Billy Sharp for revealing a message on his vest under his shirt after the tragic death of his baby. Additionally, no sign of Nigel Miller, an old skool police officer type ref who always seemed to show common sense.
A perk of the new list is that it contains a number of the better younger refs who are finding it impossible to break into the Premier League, because of their seemingly ‘jobs for life no matter how useless they are’ policy. Refs like Coote, Harrington, Kavanagh, Simpson and the excellent James Adcock from Nottingham for example. Madley is on the list too, thankfully its Andy and not Bobby. Oli Langford from Wednesbury is a vastly underrated ref who I would be happy to see at GP. Yet Tim Robinson from Bognor is one who lowers my expectations before a match has even started. A similar feeling I began to get last season every time I saw Andy Davies’ name in the match programme. The list is completed by Mr Bankes, Duncan, Eltringham, Bond, Linington, Martin and Andy Woolmer.
Additionally, ‘assistants’ are getting an overhaul too, with 36 successful applicants making it to the list, although there are 3 or 4 being demoted from the Premier League. Unlike the referees, not all assistants will become professional assistants, which makes them sound like football’s equivalent to the lovely Debbie McGee. Unfortunately, keeping tabs on our linesmen is not easy, as clearly there is 2 of them and I never know which is which.
There are exceptions to this, where one is clearly of a different ethnicity, or have some form of disability (and I don’t mean poor eyesight), or Mike Newell’s particular favourite, officials who need their own separate changing room. But one noticeable admission from the list is Mathew Buonassisi, a linesman who always seemed to forget where he was and constantly confused his referee as to what the bejeezus he was doing. Mathew has decided to call it a day and has accepted the long standing offer from Hollywood to be Danny DeVito’s body double.”
Bernard – many thanks indeed.
And if you’d like to read more from Bernard then aside from the comments on many of the regular comments to these pages, you can follow him on Twitter via @BernardQuack.
Plug time (regular readers know the score from here) : As ever, The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, relive these moments once more and remind ourselves of that Stroud induced pain then you can do so now.
It has been a stunning few years. Here’s to more of the same. We may have had a few lows (something about a penalty, the football village, the FA Cup, the pitch, the Marinus experiment) but there have been plenty more highs as the Bees made an unexpected challenge for the Premier League.
Thanks for reading.