Ref Watch: Shrewsbury Town (H)

Sometimes, I look at the upcoming referee and smile as if it’s Christmas.

Why, because I know we have a good one. This weekend, we have a good one.

Assistants: Richard Wigglesworth and Hristo Karaivanov
Fourth Official: Andrew Hendley

Robert ‘Bobby’ Madley is a big-name referee who took charge of three Imps matches last season – the 1-0 defeat at Doncaster and our draw with Hull in the EFL Trophy being two of them. On both occasions, he officiated with common sense and was barely worth a mention, just the type of official you like to see at your games. The final time he came across our path was the game against MK Dons in which we recorded a 4-0 win. Again, he wasn’t the centre of attention, and he could easily have dismissed Brennan Johnson early doors, but chose not to.

We first saw him during our relegation season, 2010/11, when he took charge of out 0-0 draw at home against Stockport (so riveting and combative there wasn’t a single booking), and later an impressive but ultimately futile 1-0 win at Hereford. By the time we came back in 2017/18, Bobby Madley was a Premier League official, with a Championship play-off game under his belt as well as a couple of years of top-flight officiating. He had the 2017 Community Shield and had ascended to international football, looking after Iceland v Ghana at the end of the year.

Credit Graham Burrell

His career collapsed in 2018 when, after being body-shamed in the national news, he sent an ill-advised Snapchat message to a supposed friend, and ended up having to leave the game. In a testament to his character, he battled back and was reinstated on the national list for the beginning of this season. What I like about him is despite his profile, a former top-flight referee who has been in the news, it is never about him, only the game.

This season he’s officiated eleven matches and awarded three penalties. He’s only sent one player off, Gary Dicker of Brighton Under 21s in their 1-0 defeat at Walsall in the Papa John’s Trophy. Hilariously, Dicker is the 35-year-old player brought into Brighton to help their young players understand what it means to be a professional. Not getting sent off after an hour might have been a good lesson.