Ref Watch: Stevenage (H)

Assistants: Andrew Aylott and Wayne Grunnill
Fourth Official: Johnathon Bickerdike

Madley is an official I quite like, and whilst he’s mainly a Championship ref now, he’s in charge of our game this weekend.

We first saw him during our relegation season, 2010/11, when he took charge of our 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.

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 at the beginning of 2020/21.

Credit Graham Burrell

He took charge of three Imps matches in 2020/21 – 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 that season 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 saw him a bit in 2021/22 – a 1-1 draw with Shrewsbury, our FA Cup humbling at the hands of Hartlepool, and the game against Charlton, which saw Alex Gilbey and Morgan Whittaker sent off. Last season, he was mainly in the Championship, but once again, he got a play-off game, the semi-final between Coventry and Middlesbrough. The season before, he had a League Two play-off game between Mansfield and Northampton. This is a respected referee, which he has to be to deal with the ogre Evans and his antic – his last outing against us was earlier in the season, when he disallowed two Reading goals in our 1-1 draw.