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Ref-Watch: Ipswich (H)

Reading fans will no doubt be cock-a-hoop to discover that SIMON HOOPER is the man in the middle for Saturday's Stad du Mad homecoming. Well, I certainly am.

Robin Parker

Remember that London skyscraper which melted cars on Fenchurch Street last year, by reflecting sunlight at them? Referee SIMON HOOPER's shiny head possesses an eerily similar mystical quality.

Of course, we know all about the combustible dangers of SHM (no, not the Swedish House Mafia, that's Shiny Head Melting), having been managed by Brian McDermott for four years. I won't bring Marcus Hahnemann into this.

Seven fans evaporated in the East Stand in 2011 alone. No, really. All that remained were a selection of singed blue-and-white wigs, and rumblestix.


Fortunately, the sun rarely shines in Berkshire. It certainly didn't shine the last time that Hooper visited the Hoops - Simon was the fourth official on the last day of the 2013/2014 season, for our ill-fated game against Burnley.

By day, the Wiltshire resident carves out a living as an IT service manager.

Last week, Hooper was on the receiving end of a push from Norwich defender Martin Olsson. In return, Olsson is now on the receiving end of a lengthy disciplinary ban from the FA. When push comes to shove, it's all just karma.

Whilst on the subject of discipline, peering further back into the melting mists of time, last season Simon dished out a healthy 62 yellow cards across 17 Championship fixtures: an approximate average of 3.6 yellows per game. In addition, Hooper sent-off a scant 3 players (NONE via a straight-red card), and awarded seven penalties. This season, after just one game in charge, he's already racked up 4 yellows and a dismissal to his name.

More numbers than all of Carol Vorderman's most perverse fantasies combined.

Something that may be of more interest to the Reading Massive: Hooper is an ex-Swindon man. He was cut loose by the Robins when he was just 16, after spending seven years in their youth system. Simon later had a semi-professional stint playing for Swindon Supermarine. So if he gives Ipswich five penalties at the weekend, and sends-off five Reading men, you'll know why.

Unlike another ex-Swindon man *cough, Sean Morrison, wheeze*, hopefully Hooper will actually turn up to our game on Saturday.