#RefWatch. It's like Numberwang, but with referees.
Now I hope you're all paying attention, this could get messy.
Tuesday's referee is Mark Haywood, a fine and strapping Englishman, who merrily lives out his days as a National List match official. All very well and good so far.
But wait. This same Tuesday, Mark Heywood, a fine and strapping Englishman, who merrily lives out his days as a National List match official, will be fourth official for Blackburn Rovers vs Birmingham City. Well I never. Slap my thigh and call me Jehovah. Etc, etc.
Two men, two Marks, both referees. Both nearly called Haywood (or Heywood). The difference a single vowel can make, hey
Spooky. It's almost as if it's nearly Halloween.
Incidentally, Mark Heywood (henceforth referred to as ''Mark #2'') officiated Reading's bout with Sheffield Wednesday last month, up at Hillsborough. So yes, he was the one who awarded *that* penalty, which Glenn Murray and Nick Blackman came to blows over. Happy days. That 1-0 loss remains Mark #2's only match action this term. Nice to know that Mark left his mark. Ahem.
Well now the joke's on him, because we're leaving Mark #2 behind to focus exclusively on our referee for THIS week, "Mark #1". Better known by the name his parents gave him, Mark Haywood.
Hailing from the depths of West Yorkshire, Haywood is now into his 9th season as an official on the Football League circuit.
Sagely fans may well recall the last time Mark refereed a Reading contest: he was the man in the middle for our squeaky 2-1 home win in the 2010/2011 season against Preston North End - a side featuring future (and fleeting) Royal, Bongani Khumalo.
The Royals went in at the break 1-0 up - thanks to Jimmy Kebe nodding home from a Shane Long delivery - before Alex McCarthy put the cat amongst the pigeons with an own-goal early in the second half. Fortunately, everybody's favourite triple-named footballing personality (barring RVP, LVG, and dare I say it, JSK) Hal Robson-Kanu popped up in the final ten minutes, to dispatch the Lilywhites and wrap up all three points. A rather lovely photograph from the game is on display at the top of this very ''article''.
On a less cheery note, Mark was also the man responsible for sending off ex-Reading assassin Simon Church in December 2009, in a 1-1 draw away to Bristol City. I, for one, have never forgiven him.
Fast-forward to the present day - a vastly different world, of Nigel Adkins, Thai consortiums, and Hope Akpan - and Haywood is still up to his hardcore card-toting habits. After taking charge of only four Championship games in the 2014/2015 season, he's already tallied a tasty 16 yellow cards, a red, and a penalty.