Stuart Attwell from Warwickshire takes charge of Rangers as they host high-flying Birmingham City this Tuesday.
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 Atwell was worthy of a call up to the Premier League where by and large he has performed admirably.
There is however one blemish on the career of the young referee as he gave what is fast becoming known as “The Ghost Goal” in a match between Watford and Reading at Vicarage Road. Noel Hunt made a desparate bid to keep the ball from going for a goal kick by knocking the ball back into the box from a few yards wide of the goal.
Linesman Nigel Bannister, who incidentally will not be alongside Mr Attwell on Tuesday, flagged for the ball going over the line – but inexplicably signalled a goal, with the referee seemingly helpless but to go on the advice of his official.
Reading manager Steve Coppell was coy after the match:
‘When the whistle went I wondered what it was for as I could not see a foul.
‘Everyone trooped back to the centre and then it became obvious that the referee had given the goal.
‘But after speaking to Noel Hunt after the game it became clear that the ball went out of play wide of the goal.’
While Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd was rather philosophical in his opinion:
‘If someone stops you in a car park and gives you a present you don’t say no do you?’
Vital Watford launched a scathing attack on the young official:
“After consultation with 8 year-old referee Stuart Attwell, who was promised all the candy he wanted to give the goal, the goal was given.
For those you uninformed, Attwell is the youngest, most incompetent referee ever to have done the job, ever, in the history of the Milky Way. He was moved to the elite list at the beginning of this season.
Already tucked up in bed, he didn’t come out to meet the press, but Paul Lejer of the assistant referees are totally blind wastes of space board said the following:
“The referee has no way of knowing for definite; he was relying on his assistant to make the decision.
‘It was the assistant referee who gave the goal and from his position and angle it had appeared to cross the line for a goal. He has made a human error.”
Expect to see this one replayed and replayed and replayed.”
Suffice to say Stuart Attwell was left in the wilderness, handed a League Two fixture between Wycombe and Bournemouth before waiting three weeks without a game to work his way to League One with Tranmere Rovers v Crewe Alexandra.
This will be Mr Attwell`s maiden fixture for both Rangers and Birmingham City. He has officiated seven games this season handing out 22 yellows and no reds, giving him a booking average of 3.14.
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