The Man in the Middle: Swindon Town

Tomorrow night sees Swindon Town visit Sincil Bank, in a game that the Imps will be desperate to win, given the tricky away tie coming up against Plymouth Argyle.

It is certainly a crucial game in terms of the League One promotion race, with Peterborough facing that tricky trip to Home Park, whilst Portsmouth travel to Oxford and Hull host Ipswich. They are all big ties, as is Doncaster’s trip to in-form Blackpool, who are surging up the division. With so much at stake, it is worth looking at which referee will be in charge, isn’t it?

Referee: Declan Bourne
Assistant Referee: Abbas Khan
Assistant Referee: Wayne Grunnill
Fourth Official: Alistair Nelson

Declan Bourne is a first-year referee who served two years in the National League after we left it in 2016/17. He’s not fond of his red card by the way, in three seasons he has shown just four, two of those in the same match after a 90th-minute brawl. In 21 games this campaign, he has shown 60 yellow cards, so an average of around three per game. He has officiated a single Swindon Town game, their FA Cup exit at the hands of non-league side Darlington.

This won’t be the first time Bourne and Wayne Grunnill have been together as part of the team at Sincil Bank. Bourne was the fourth official when the Imps met Sunderland earlier in the season, with Grunnill and assistant on that day. Oddly, Khan has also been a fourth official this season, during our 2-1 win against Northampton. Khan has also been an assistant at Sincil Bank on a few occasions, notably our 2-1 win at Macclesfield in the title-winning season, our 1-1 draw with Port Vale in the same year. Oddly, he was also running the line as we beat Peterborough 2-1 back in January 2020, the last time Swindon visited the Bank in 2018 and for the Charlton game earlier this year. I’m not sure if he was the linesman who let Jorge Grant’s goal stand or not though I’m afraid!

As for Wayne Grunnill, he was the assistant in our 3-1 defeat at Exeter in the 2017/18 play-off semi-final, as well as our trip to Rotherham at the start of last season, and our 1-1 draw with Grimsby Town during the title-winning season.

In an odd twist of fate, Bourne is the referee who took charge of Southend and Bolton this weekend, a match originally scheduled to be handled by Darren Drysdale, the Lincolnshire-based official removed from duty in the aftermath of a nothing confrontation with Ipswich Town’s Alan Judge.,