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BUMPER Ref-Watch Special: Charlton (H) + Bournemouth (H)

In what has been a highly erratic week for Ref-Watch, we're back with a bang. In a last-ditch attempt to plug the referee-shaped void in the site as of late, here's a double-whammy Ref-Watch treatment for both DARREN SHELDRAKE and DAVID COOTE.

Dan Istitene

First, we have a retrospective glance back to our official against Charlton, Darren Sheldrake.

A resident of Surrey, Mr Sheldrake hasn't been called upon to officiate in the Championship many times this season: the only 2 Championship matches Darren had overseen (out of his 15 league matches in total) before this week were Watford vs Bournemouth - a 6-1 goalfest, I might add - and Brighton vs Burnley.

Over the course of those 2 fixtures he was relatively sparing with his cards (unlike a certain Mr Eltringham and Mr Attwell), only unveiling a total of 5 yellows, though the accumulation of two of them led to the dismissal of Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton against Brighton.

He also awarded a stoppage-time penalty to the home side Watford in their mauling of Bournemouth (the Royals' opponents on Saturday), though it did little to affect the result: Troy Deeney slotted away to add a sixth goal, and to compound the Bournemouth misery further.

Prior to Tuesday's game, Darren, who is a PE teacher at Teddington School in Middlesex, had only officiated two Reading games in his career. First was a 2-1 home defeat to the now-Premier League Cardiff City on the 19th of November 2011, followed by the more recent 4-0 stuffing of Barnsley at Oakwell. On that day, the 17th of March 2012, four second-half goals (a brace from Jem Karacan, as well a goal apiece from Jason Roberts and captain Jobi McAnuff) bagged us a full 3-points and kept us 3rd in the table, and knocking on the doors of an automatic promotion spot that we would ultimately go on to occupy.

Interestingly, on the subject of the number 3 (3rd place, 3-points, Sheldrake's 3rd ever Royals match on Tuesday evening, etc), both of the above matches, as well as our game against Charlton this week (!) contained 3 yellow cards each. It's nice to know that we successfully channeled the 'number 3 vibes' in the air into a juicy 3-points on Tuesday night.


And now to look ahead to Bournemouth on Saturday, when David Coote will take the reigns.

Whack the name David Coote into Google (or Bing, or whichever other search engine is your tipple of choice), and more than one name is guaranteed to pop up. Coote's father, Mr Coote Sr (who is now 58) played professionally for Nottinghamshire CCC, back in his heyday. In fact, cricket is a sport that runs thick in the Coote family veins: our Coote Jr, a batsman like his old man, captained Nottinghamshire at age-group levels.

But back to a sport more instantly familiar to The Tilehurst End readers - football.

David has been reasonably prolific in his Championship officiating duties this season, in contrast to Darren Sheldrake. Plonked in the middle of no less than 6 Sky Bet Championship encounters so far, more astute Reading fans may remember that one of those 6 was our opening day fixture against Mick McCarthy's Ipswich Town on the 3rd of August this year (which is 2013, just in case anyone felt the urge to reminisce on Ref-Watches gone by from 2014 onwards).

If you need your memory jogging, you can find a full The Tilehurst End match report from Ipswich right here, courtesy of @jonnafon: Jay Tabb and all.

Since then, Coote has seen it fit to produce a nice round 20 yellows, but only 1 red, in the 6 games he has overseen thus far. 7 of those 20 yellows came in Coote's latest match, between Wigan and Derby at the DW, the 3-1 away win leaving ex-Wigan manager Owen Coyle freshly unemployed. Coote has also given a total of 3 penalties this season, the most recent of which providing high-flying Steve McClaren's Derby with their 3rd goal in that same match above, courtesy of Chris Martin. No, not THAT Chris Martin.


So there you have it, a festive Ref-Watch stuffing. I'm sorry for not getting anything up on here before today, I have had a bit of a rotten week, laden with illness and other such general nastiness.

Still, the perfect cure-all for my malady would be another Royal 3-points against the Cherries tomorrow afternoon.