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Referee who was part of worst ever Newcastle blunder decision now promoted to Premier League

7 months ago

Trelford Mills will always go down as the most notorious referee for many Newcastle United supporters, who were around for the match on 12 January 1983.

An FA Cup third round replay at St James Park, where Newcastle lost 1-0 to Brighton but Mills was shocking, disallowing two clear NUFC penalties and pretty much not giving us a decision all night.

However, that was transcended on 5 April 2017, in terms of a situation where four match officials between them, failed to implement one of the most basic laws of the game.

It was the worst blunder from match officials ever seen by Newcastle United fans.

Newcastle United going for promotion and with the score still 0-0, Keith Stroud refusing to allow Matt Ritchie to retake a penalty against Burton, after Dwight Gayle had encroached into the box.

What made it all the more embarrassing was that none of the other three match officials knew the rules either, linesmen Matthew McGrath and David Avent, plus fourth official Tony Harrington. Indeed, Harrington was arguably more at fault than even the referee, because as fourth official he is detached from the action on the pitch and should have been able instantly to think, hang on – that’s not right.

The referee Keith Stroud was banned from match official duties for the rest of that 2016/17 season, whilst the other three returned to duties after a few weeks.

As is often the case when things go badly wrong, all involved were very very lucky that the result still went the right way, ironically it was Matt Ritchie who ended up scoring the winner. If this ignorance of one of the most basic rules had ended up with Newcastle not winning the game and the result potentially having an impact on promotion, I’m sure it would have had far greater repercussions for those at fault.

Just over four years later and one of those match officials from the Burton blunder match is back in the headlines.

Tony Harrington, the fourth official that day against Burton, has now been announced (see below) as one of four new Premier League referees for the 2021/22 season.

Watch out carefully next season for when match officials are announced…

(Any other stand out match official nightmares you can recall? Leave them in the comments section below. The one that really springs to mind for me is when Newcastle lost 4-1 at Derby in 1992, the referee totally losing the plot, sending off three Newcastle players and Terry Mac from the bench, a result / referee which could have helped send NUFC down…)

Official Premier League Announcement:

‘PGMOL confirms new officials have been promoted to Select Group 1 ahead of the new season

This season’s Premier League will feature four new referees after Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) announced that Jarred Gillett, Michael Salisbury, Tony Harrington and John Brooks have been all been promoted to Select Group 1.

The four new referees will join the group of referees who officiate in the Premier League, increasing the total number of Select Group 1 referees to 22.

Tony Harrington

Harrington spent four years as an EFL assistant referee and four years as a National League referee before promotion to the EFL in 2012. He has been a Select Group 2 referee since 2016 and has refereed nearly 200 EFL matches.

Football is in the blood of Harrington. He is the grandson of former Hartlepool United player Tommy McGuigan.’


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