The usual methods I employ for obtaining wacky and bizarre snippets of biographical information on referees have failed me this week: so, sadly, no mention of County Cricket Clubs or P.E. teaching in this latest edition of Ref-Watch.
However, as relatively reclusive as Oliver Langford seems to be, it has been possible to glean that he is a resident of the West Midlands. We also have his disciplinary record to hand, with Mr Langford dispensing a total of 16 Championship yellow cards over the 6 matches he has surveyed in this league so far. Curiously, he hasn't given any straight red cards in any competition this season (that's a mega 16 matches), although the double booking of Blackpool's England U21 international defender Jack Robinson gifted him an early bath in 'Pool's 2-1 win at the Royal-scalp-touting Bournemouth.
Similarly sparing on the penalties front, Oliver has given just a single penalty in the 2013/14 Championship season, allowing Barnsley striker Chris O' Grady to bag a brace and the decisive goal in a 3-2 win over Middlesborough back in mid-October.
The latest match that Langford had officiated up until this weekend was Doncaster's shock 2-1 victory over Championship pace-setters Queen's Park Rangers a couple of weeks back, whereas his last Royal encounter was as long ago as the 6th of March 2012, against Portsmouth at the MadStad. In a fairly uninspirational 1-0 win, which saw no bookings or major incidents of note from either team, Noel Hunt proved to be the difference, heading us in front (in his traditional manner) from a Jason Roberts cross in the 24th minute. This seventh consecutive win pushed us up to a point behind 2nd-placed West Ham, and kept Reading breathing down the necks of league-leaders Southampton; all 3 teams would go on to be promoted at the season's climax.
With the Royals needing to brush themselves down after surrendering their unbeaten home record in such disappointing fashion last week, returning from the North on Saturday afternoon with a spoil of 3-points would give us a much needed mental boost as we head into the New Year. Let's hope Oliver Langford keeps the match ticking over in the same non-headline-making spirit he has demonstrated in matches so far this season.