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Official who was part of worst ever Newcastle blunder decision now gets to referee first NUFC Premier League match

4 weeks ago
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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 five years later and one of those match officials from the Burton blunder match is back in the headlines.

Yes, Tony Harrington, the fourth official that day against Burton, has now been announced (see below) as refereeing his first ever Premier League match at…St James Park!

Tony Harrington has reffed one game previously at St James Park but that was in the Championship and before that laughable Burton match, taking charge of a 2-1 Championship home win for Newcastle against Cardiff back in November 2016.

I don’t normally pay that much attention to the referee but tonight I might make an exception…

(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…)

Newcastle United official announcement – 19 April 2022:

‘Tony Harrington will be the referee for Newcastle United’s Premier League visit of Crystal Palace on Wednesday night (kick-off 7.45pm BST).

The Magpies take on Patrick Vieira’s side at St. James’ Park, aiming for six successive home wins in the English top-flight for the first time since 2003/04 under Sir Bobby Robson’s management.

This will be the first time the Cleveland whistler has refereed a Premier League contest involving the Magpies after overseeing two of Newcastle’s Championship fixtures during the 2016/17 campaign.

The former PE teacher, who officiated his first Premier League match in December 2021, was in charge for United’s 1-0 victory away at Bristol City in August 2016, booking four players that day, including former Newcastle goalkeeper Matz Sels.

Promoted to the Select Group of Referees in June 2021, he was also the man in the middle for Newcastle’s 2-1 win against Cardiff City at St. James’ Park in November 2016, handing out one yellow card.

In the 21 games Harrington has officiated in, across the Premier League, Championship, League Two, Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup, he has dished out a total of 66 yellow cards and just one red card, sending off Birmingham City’s Gary Gardner in a 2-0 defeat at Hull City.

On Wednesday night, Harrington will be assisted by Ian Hussin and Mark Scholes while Kevin Friend will be the fourth official.

Craig Pawson will be the Video Assistant Referee and will be assisted by Simon Bennett.’

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