Ref Watch: Sheffield Wednesday (H)

Ref: ALAN YOUNG
Assistants: Steven Rushton and Nik Barnard
Fourth Official: Wayne Grunnill

It’s one of the games we’d perhaps refer to as ‘the big one’ this weekend, as Sheffield Wednesday come to town.

Growing up, The Owls were always a top-flight club, and along with Forest and Leeds, they were the local team a lot of people seemed to support. There’s still a huge Sheff Weds contingent in and around Lincoln, many unlikely to be in the privileged position of having a ticket for the game. I remember a couple of years ago when the Supporters Board were asked to vote on whether we thought we should give more ground space to Weds for a pre-season friendly! That’s how big they are, in my eyes, at least.

So, who is tasked with the job of officiating these two teams? That’s Mr Alan Young, a man who was in the headlines a year ago when he forgot to play the injury time at the end of the first half of a game. It was an odd affair, with Orient and Hartlepool shooting in the same direction for four minutes at the start of the second half before swapping ends and commencing the real second half.

He was on the National League list in 2015/16, officiating as we drew 2-2 with Barrow (and showing a red card) before picking up one of our later matches, a 2-1 win against Chester. The following season he was again in charge as we played Chester, sending off Alan Power and getting me rather irate with his indecisive, card-happy performance. He finished the season with nine red cards in 21 matches; we finished the season top, and briefly, we went our separate ways. He clearly claimed down the following season, showing three reds in 26 and getting himself onto the Football League list.

Oddly, he hasn’t officiated a game of ours since, despite being on the list for our League Two title win and our three-season stay in League One. He had eased up on the red cards until this season; in his nine games in all competitions, he’s already shown six, two of which affected us – he was the official who sent off the Bristol Rovers pair before we beat them 6-3, one of which was overturned. That’s the only League One game he’s had so far this season. One game, two red cards.

City celebrate McDaid’s opener v Chester 2016

To get an idea of his performance over a few games, we can look at his League Two performances, as he’s had four. He’s not seemingly whistle-happy; he’s 30/52 in terms of fouls awarded per game, with 21.75, and he’s 30/52 for fouls awarded per tackle. However, he is 10th for yellow cards per game, which means when he does give a foul, he’s more likely to accompany it with a card. He hasn’t awarded a penalty yet this season, and he’s only given two since the turn of the year, so don’t expect a spot kick. However, that red tally is interesting; he has two in League One, as we’ve covered but averages 0.75 per game in League Two, dishing out three in his four matches. Only Declan Bourne (two in four) and Bobby Madden (two in three) come close.

A word on the fourth official (I know Becca likes this bit) – Wayne Grunnill was the assistant referee who got a bit of stick when we lost 3-1 at Exeter in the play-offs a few years ago. Like Abbas Khan, we’ve had him for no end of matches but never as a referee. He’s done six home matches for us over the last two season, and we’ve not won a single one of them! That includes Sunderland (0-4), Wimbledon (0-0 and 0-1), Swindon (2-2), Wycombe (1-1) and MK Dons (2-3). However, in our first season back in the league, he was the assistant referee on four occasions, with us beating Port Vale (3-1) and Stevenage (3-0), as well as drawing with Morecambe (1-1) and Cambridge (0-0).