A Different Week – Referees playing card games from the Conference South to the Premier League

This Christmas, referee David Spain may not be getting any cards from Ashley Vickers, after the one he showed the Dorchester Town player-manager on Monday. Conference South side Dorchester were in League action against Havant and Waterlooville, when a semi-naked male streaker ran onto the pitch wearing a wig and a ‘mankini’, made famous by Sascha Baron Cohen in the film Borat.

With the stewards seemingly a little slow off the mark to apprehend the presumably rather cold pitch invader, Vickers reacted like any self-respecting non-league footballer and promptly rugby tackled him. However, as the dazed streaker was being led away, Spain shocked players and fans on both sides by showing the former Sheffield United man a red card for violent conduct. Vickers, whose misery was completed as Havant ran out 3-1 winners, said he was ‘dumbfounded’.

As the guy ran on to the pitch without any of the stewards getting near him, I thought I was doing them a favour. My only thought was to get hold of him so we could get on with the game. I grabbed him, brought him to the ground and the stewards thanked me for it. But the ref decided to send me off and it beggars belief. Their players begged the ref not to send me off and their chairman even offered to take a player off to even things up. In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t have done it. I’m sure people will crucify me but I have broad shoulders.

Perhaps if Peter Walton had been the referee, Vickers may have got away with it, or then again, perhaps not. Walton was refereeing Wednesday night’s Premier League game between Everton and Birmingham City, when he discovered he had taken to the field without his cards. Midway through the first-half, Walton went to book Birmingham midfielder Jordan Mutch, but after haplessly digging about his pockets for a few seconds, he quickly realised he had left his red and yellow cards in the Goodison Park changing rooms.

So what did Walton do? Did he rescind the card? Did he halt the game whilst he went to fetch them? No, he gave Mutch a stern talking to, wagged his finger at him a bit and then confidently waved an imaginary card, much to the amusement of everyone, except for Mutch perhaps, who had probably been hoping he would get away with it. Mild confusion arose for a moment, with some unsure what colour ‘card’ had been awarded, but Walton quickly confirmed that Mutch had indeed only been cautioned. Meanwhile, the fourth official had disappeared off down the tunnel to retrieve the missing cards, which he was able to pass to his red-faced colleague during a break in play just before half-time.

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