Date:Monday February 16 2009
Stuart Attwell from Warwickshire returns to W12 to officiate Rangers clash live on Sky against Ipswich Town.
Photo courtesy of refworld.com
The 25 year old official broke the record to be the youngest referee to be promoted to the top flight, beating then 29 year old Mark Clattenberg to the title.
After one season refereeing in the Football League, the powers-that-be decided Mr Attwell was worthy of a call up to the Premier League, a decision that has come under much scrutiny in light of recent poor officiating displays.
A succession of errors have turned the young referee`s meteoric rise up the refereeing ladder into a laughing stock - as he continues to lose control of fixtures and dish cards out like confetti.
Indeed his most famed blunder is the infamous Ghost Goal of Vicarage Road. With Reading`s Noel Hunt desperately trying to salvage an attack he failed to keep the ball in play as the ball went inches over the line for a goal kick.
Linesman Nigel Bannister blamed an optical illusion for what he thought was a perfectly good goal and after consolation of Mr Attwell the pair decided a goal must be given. A frankly startling decision that was met with much criticism from players and managers alike.
His first chance back in the Championship was QPR`s midweek clash with promotion hopefuls Birmingham City. All preparation was thrown out of the window when Mr Attwell deemed a fair challenge by Mikele Leigertwood was worthy of a red card. Loftus Road was more stunned than angered - but nevertheless the R`s had to plough on with ten men for the majority of the game.
Birmingham looked a shadow of the side that battled valiantly against relegation last season, as Samuel Di Carmine slammed home a fierce drive from distance as the rain bucketed down in W12.
The decision to send of Leigertwood wasn`t even discussed by the FA who instead opted to back their blue-eyed boy by banning Mikele for a further game for what they deemed a frivellous appeal.
The following game he completed a run a three straight red cards when he sent off Nottingham Forest`s Lewis McGugan in the East-midlands derby with Derby County. However that wasn`t the major talking point as Attwell first disallowed a goal in favour of a penalty - which then Forest keeper Lee Camp saved.
Moments later he ruled out another Derby goal for a push - which I am surprised hasn`t yet been coined the Ghost Foul because clearly nothing took place.
After a meeting with Keith Hackett he was axed from the following week`s fixtures. Still however there was more time for Attwell to cause more controversy this time sending off Brenford`s Nathan Elder in the eighth minute of their clash with Notts County.
Brentford owner Greg Dyke slammed the FA for their protection of the official in spite of his evident failings in what incredibly is only his second season on the referee`s list.
So far this season Mr Attwell has refereed 21 games, handing out 66 yellow cards and five reds. This gives him an average of 3.38 cards per game.
Mr Attwell & Queens Park Rangers
QPR 1-0 Birmingham City - 28-10-08
Goals: Samuel Di Carmine 54.
Yellow Cards: Radek Cerny, Emmanuel Ledesma; Franck Queudrue, Jared Wilson.
Red Cards: Mikele Leigertwood.
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