The referee for tomorrow’s match is Chris Sarginson, a Football League referee with ten years experience. For obvious reasons our paths haven’t crossed much recently, but for a short while his name was synonymous with Imps players being red carded.
The first Imps match he officiated was a 1-1 draw with Rochdale in 2008, a completely average and forgettable encounter. Lee Thorpe played for Rochdale and was predictably booked, but other than that the game passed without note. Mr Sarginson was next a visitor in March of the same season, Jacko’s magnificent campaign had flattened and Bury were the visitors.
This game was memorable for all the wrong reasons. City sneaked in front on the half-hour when Michael O’Connor opened up the Bury defence like a can of beans with a delicious ball into the box. Aaron Brown knocked the ball back leaving Ben Wright with an easy tap-in from six yards.
Then all hell broke loose with Anthony Elding kicking out at Efe Sodje. The referee handed him a yellow card, rather lenient even back then. Elding, clearly on some sort of a mission, was not a happy man. Two minutes later he was involved in a scuffle on the ground with Ryan Cresswell and was shown a straight red, the Bury player escaping with a yellow card. I remember feeling incredibly indignant at the time, perhaps not so much now knowing how Elding’s Imps career went. The drama wasn’t over there, Elding then appeared to be pushed around by the members of the Bury bench, predictably sparking a mass brawl which was broken up by stewards.
To make matters worse, Andy Bishop equalised after 82 minutes to give Bury a share of the spoils.
Perhaps the experience put Chris Sarginson off coming to Sincil Bank as he wasn’t awarded a Lincoln game the following season. However, in our relegation campaign, he was involved in two crucial incidents, one of which may be attributed to us going down.
Before all that though, he took control of our 2-2 draw at Adams Park, Wycombe. Nothing too stressful, Drewe Broughton played and wasn’t booked, Gareth Ainsworth was. No drama, no problem.
On March 15th, 2011 he was in charge at Moss Rose as we travelled to Macclesfield. Who remembers that game? A win would have left us all-but safe, and going into the 90th minute we led 1-0. The trouble was we only had nine men on the field, Delroy Facey had been injured and Ben Hutchinson had been dismissed by none other than tomorrow’s referee.
Of course, just as in the case of Anthony Elding, he was absolutely right to do so. Hutchinson was booked for a foul and then, just after the hour, he petulantly kicked the ball away after a decision went against him. He was shown a second yellow and went off down the tunnel. If he’d stayed on, would he have picked up the unmarked Sam Wedgebury for their injury-time leveller? Knowing Hutchinson’s work-rate, probably not.
Ten days later he was back in charge of an Imps game, this time officiating as we hosted Rotherham on one of the bleakest ever nights as an Imps fan. For those who can’t remember, Rotherham won 6-0 and the referee actually did us a favour by sending off Pat Kanyucka after 62 minutes. Oddly we’d conceded four with him on the field and only two after he was sent off, one of which was the penalty he gave away.
Since then Chris Sarginson has gone on to be a solid lower league referee, he even got the nod to officiate the Checkatrade Trophy final between Coventry and Oxford last season. So far this campaign he’s shown just two red cards in his 14 outings.
I think he must be the only referee to have sent off three Lincoln players in his career and have me agree with every single one! Not one of those players should have had the pleasure of pulling on the red and white, so thank you Mr Sarginson for limiting the amount of time I had to watch them if only for one game!