The Man in the Middle – Hull City (look away now)

It’s the biggest game of the season so far, us and Hull going toe-to-toe in a rerun of last week’s thrilling encounter.

We had a top referee last weekend, Bobby Madley didn’t put a foot wrong and was barely recognisable by the end of the fixture. Could we possibly be as lucky once again?

Maybe not, no.

Assistants: Gareth Mellor and Simon Clayton
Fourth Official: Thomas Bramall

Look, my distaste for Stockbridge stems from a game against Notts County you may recall, where Billy Knott was sent off for a high boot (the like we see every week these days), and in a game we ended up losing 4-1. Since then, he’s not been unfair on us, but he does like the roar of the home crowd. He awarded us a penalty in a 2-0 win against Accrington which wasn’t on at all, and the red card he flashed was rescinded too. I also felt he let us off the hook as we beat Bury 2-1, sending a player off and giving us a penalty too. All three were big games at the top of the table, all three saw the visitors reduced to ten men. I’ve said before he likes the roar of the home crowd, so maybe empty stands will be a blessing.

In fairness, he was also in charge of our game against Morecambe in the title-winning season, showing just three yellow cards as we brushed them aside by three goals to one, and I thought he had a decent game back then. This season, in 17 outings, he’s shown just two reds (one every eight and a half games). Last season, with fans in, his average was one every four and a half matches or six in 28. He is an experienced referee and my judgement has been clouded by bad performances in the past, for and against us, but I just hope Tuesday’s game is handled with the same thoughtfulness as Bobby Madley managed.