Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Wednesday February 3 2010
The Sunderland Vs Wigan Athletic game at the Stadium of Light on Saturday will be refereed by Nuneaton official, the Premier Leagues youngest ever referee and Steve Bruces favourite man in the middle, Stuart Attwell.
The young whistle blower has been fast tracked through to the Select Group of referees in record time at the tender age of 25 he became the Premier Leagues youngest ref after just one season as a Football League referee.
Attwell though is no stranger to controversy and Latics supporters will remember him from last season, he was centre stage at what was then the JJB when the Latics lost 1-0 to West Ham in a game full of incident mainly caused by Attwell`s lack of authority on the pitch
That evening Attwell issued 2 red and 7 yellow cards, sending off Carlton Cole for 2 marginal yellow-card offences, failed to send off Lucas Neill for a dangerous tackle on Latics Lee Cattermole and then subsequently failed to control the players after sending off Cattermole for a tackle on Scott Parker who rolled about like a fish out of water. Latics boss at the time Steve Bruce said: 'The game was ruined as a spectacle... In my opinion, Mr Attwell is not ready to step up to the plate.'
He has also had several other 'mares including allowing the Reading ghost goal that never was at Watford last season and a shocking display in the Derby Vs Nottm Forest game when he disallowed a goal in the last minute only to then award a penalty, which was subsequently missed.
Any way on to this season and Attwell has been in charge of 10 Premier League games and he has issued 36 yellow cards and just the 1 red, he must have mellowed in his old age.
Although he has officiated at the Mecca that is the DW Stadium, Stuart cites Wembley as the best ground he has refereed in when asked if he could choose any stadium in the world to be in charge of a game at, he says: 'I have been fortunate to referee at Wembley, which is a fantastic venue, and has a fantastic history associated with it. This would be my first choice. Aside from this, I would love to referee at Barcelona`s Camp Nou or the Bernabeu in Madrid.'
It`s always interesting to know how officials prepare for the big games and they don`t come any bigger than the Latics Vs Villa, do they? Well our intrepid Mr Attwell says he likes to read up on the teams tactics, strange, and he always makes sure he has a butty before the game, he says: 'I don`t have any specific rituals or habits that I need to do before a game. I just make sure that I prepare fully for the match, in terms of knowing the teams and their tactics, training appropriately and making sure that I eat correctly before the game. Knowing that my preparation has been good will help me to focus for the match.
In a total of 18 games this so far this season Atwell has issued 59 yellows and 3 red cards
This will be the first time this season that Atwell has refereed a Wigan Athletic or Sunderland game though he was in line to be in charge of the Latics Vs Aston Villa match back in December that was called off due to a frozen pitch.
You can listen to the Latics Speyk podcasts now by clicking on the player here:
Date:Wednesday February 3 2010
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