Ref Watch: Bolton Wanderers (H)

Assistants: Matthew Smith and Andrew Dallison
Fourth Official: Tom Nield

Geoff – there’s a good name you don’t hear much anymore. My Grandad was called Geoff, the lifelong Lincoln City fan who helped inspire me to carry the torch (along with my Dad). Yep, I like the name Geoff, although you probably wouldn’t call a baby Geoff these days, just like you wouldn’t call one Gary.

I digress. Geoff Eltringham, who feels like he should be in his seventies with a name like that, is a referee of some vintage – he was in the EFL back before we were ever relegated to the Blue Square Premier Division. Sincil Bank was the venue of his second Football League game, where we somewhat ironically lost 2-0 to Burton Albion. I don’t recall Geoff being there; he booked just one player (Shane Clarke), his third EFL booking after Morecambe’s Derek Adams and Craig Stanley. Fascinating stuff.

Imps v Burton 2009 – Credit Graham Burrell

God knows how he managed it, but the year we were relegated from the Football League, his only visit to the Bank saw us win 3-1, thrashing (in terms of that season, it was a thrashing) Oxford United 3-1. The following season he began to get Championship matches, and we faced FA Trophy games, which put us on a different trajectory.

The County Durham official next popped up in one of our fixtures as we lost 4-1 against Blackburn Rovers in the EFL Cup in 2018/19, but by this point, getting him for a league fixture was rare – most of his matches are from the second tier. He did officiate our 5-0 win at Bradford in the same competition under Michael Appleton, which was the last time we had him.

This season, Geoff started in the National League but has slowly made his way back to the Championship, most recently officiating in Preston and Huddersfield game. He’s sent off one player, Danny Hylton, for which he can definitely be excused.

In his games, spread evenly across all three EFL divisions, he awards around 21 free kicks per game, has a low foul-to-tackle ratio and flashes four yellows. Expect a steady, measured performance, not letting everything go, but not too fussy either.