Ref Watch: Plymouth Argyle (A)


For a long while, it seemed we rarely talked about referees, but this season things have changed immensely. I actually think they performed better in empty stadiums, without the pressure of the crowd.

Mind you, Andrew Kitchen had a solid game this weekend, bar the one decision at the end that led to a goal. Hopefully, this week’s referee is going to be just as good, without the late slip.

Referee: NEIL HAIR
Assistants: Simon Shaw and Michael Webb
Fourth Official: Adam Ricketts

This week we have Neil Hair officiating our match. His first season in the top five divisions was 2016/17, in the National League, which was quite special for us! We only had him once that season, as we won 4-0 away at Braintree courtesy of Lee Angol’s hat trick. He took another year in the National League, so we next met during our League Two title-winning season. He reffed the infamous Watergate game, a 2-2 draw between us and Carlisle, and didn’t show a single yellow card. However, his performance did not impress me; he let a lot go, and if you look back at the match highlights, missed a blatant penalty for a foul on Akinde.

He wasn’t too bad the following season. His first season on the Football League list saw him officiate some League One matches, and it was at that level he made his next visit to the Bank; officiating our 5-1 win against Bolton, Harry Toffollo’s final game for the club. This time, there was no mention of the ref at all, and still few bookings; just one for either team.

Watergate – Courtesy of Graham Burrell

That is your lot, he hasn’t officiated any other games involving the Imps. This season, he’s booked 52 players in 18 matches, around three per game (as is average), and he’s yet to send anyone off. He’s awarded four penalties, equally split between home and away teams, including one to either side as Fleetwood and Sunderland drew 2-2. Fleetwood’s came in the 97th minute, which I imagined wound up Lee Johnson. Oh well, there’s a reason to like our ref this weekend, if you need one.