Mick Russell is the man in the middle as QPR face Crystal Palace at Loftus Road tomorrow evening.
Russell was promoted to the National Referees List in 2004 and made his first appearance as an official in Scunthorpe United’s 3-1 win over Rochdale.
In the subsequent fixture he sent off Shrewsbury Town’s Jamie Tolley in their 1-0 defeat away at Cambridge United, with the U’s finishing at the basement of the Football League.
In his first full season he refereed 32 games, dishing out 61 yellow cards and Tolley’s red in a season that included three Championship fixtures.
In 2005-06 he refereed 34 games with a higher averaging yielding 78 yellow cards and four reds, and nine games in the Championship followed the next season as he slowly made his way up through the ranks.
The referee from Hertfordshire presided 13 times in the Championship in 2007-08, and 39 games overall dishing out 82 yellow cards and six reds – as his card average steadily grew.
He had ten less games in 2008-09 and 57 yellow cards and four reds followed as he steadied his card count – but he received far less Championship fixtures in return with only nine games being presided over by Mr Russell.
So far this season in ten games he has handed out 22 yellows and a red, and incurred the wrath of Southend boss Steve Tilson for sending off Jean-Francois Christophe in their defeat against Swindon Town.
“We didn`t seem to get a decision all afternoon and it was a poor performance from the referee,” Tilson said.
“Jeff (Christophe) said he got caught by their player but the referee has opted to send him off for diving and I don`t know how that wasn`t a penalty when Franck got fouled.
“In truth the decisions cost us the game and their second goal shouldn`t have been allowed either.”
Mr Russell rather confusingly cites Grant Hegley as the best referee in the game at present – which tells its own story on how he plans to officiate tomorrow’s clash.
More interestingly perhaps is the appearance of the fourth official for the game. Steve Rubery was a linesman in the Ashton Gate debacle, and I’m sure will be in for a tough time monitoring Neil Warnock on the touchline.
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