Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Friday August 12 2011
The season opener at the DW Stadium between Wigan Athletic and Norwich City tomorrow (Saturday) will be refereed by Warwickshire official Stuart Attwell.
Atwell has been fast tracked through to the Select Group of referees in record time and at the tender age of 25 he became the Premier Leagues youngest ref after just one season as a Football League referee, and boy did it show.
He is no stranger to controversy and Latics supporters will remember him from the 2008/09 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 followed this up in March 2010, refereeing the Latics at Manchester City, the result, 3-0 to City, a game that turned on a crazy decision that saw Gary Caldwell dismissed when the score was 0-0 following a two footed stamp by City player Carlos Tevez. Latics boss Roberto Martinez was so incensed and protested so much that he got an FA rap and a fine.
He has also had several other 'mares' including allowing the Reading ghost goal that never was at Watford three seasons back and a shocking display in the Derby Vs Nottingham Forest game when he disallowed a goal in the last minute only to then award a penalty, which was subsequently missed.
Last season Attwell appeared to settle a little, his card record was a subdued 72 yellows and just 2 reds in the 25 games he took charge of, here's hoping that he is learning.
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 City v Latics, 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.'
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Date:Friday August 12 2011
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