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Ref-Watch: Wigan (A)

It's back. The Football League may not yet have vanishing spray, but it DOES have Jacob South-Klein's weekly #RefWatch. Take that, Richard Scudamore.

Paul Thomas

Refereeing is a thankless job. The much-maligned Men-in-Black of the footballing world trawl the length and breadth of Britain, only to find themselves on the receiving end of abuse from fans, players and managers alike. Poor blighters.

Which is why here at The Tilehurst End, we want to give YOU a unique insight into the lives of the men behind the whistles: every card, every penalty, every twist and turn in their career. Because yes, the referee may be a w*****... But was he formerly a banker? Only #RefWatch has the answer.

So without any further a-do, in the immortal words of Kendrick Lamar, let's ''dive in'' to another season of ref-watching goodness. Fasten those seatbelts.


Taking charge of this Saturday's season-opener up in Wigan, we have MARK BROWN.

A taxi-driver by day, Mark was once branded by ex-Royal (and now ex-footballer) Dave Kitson as ''horrific, horrendous, possibly the worst referee I have ever had in my career... Probably the most arrogant man I have ever come across on the pitch in my life''. Yikes.

When he's not busy running taxis around his native Humberside, or rubbing Dave Kitson up the wrong way, Mark likes to unwind with a spot of horse-racing. Let's hope there's no horseplay when Brown rolls into town this weekend. He'll also be hoping to prove his neigh-sayers wrong with a non-controversial 90 minutes of officiating.

Last season, Mark oversaw eight Championship clashes, administering 18 yellow cards in total - that equates to a lenient two-and-a-quarter yellows per game. Brown appeared to be similarly soft on all other fronts: no player saw red on the Yorkshireman's watch, and he saw it fit to award only a solitary penalty.

Mark Brown also shares a name with Ross County FC 33-year-old Scottish shotshopper, er, Mark Brown.

Finally, the nation's favourite taxi-driving horse-racing refereeing vagabond Brown ran into trouble in February 2011, when Ref-boss Mike Riley stripped Mark of his whistle for three weeks - following his Twitter and Facebook jibe at Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard. He also 'Kop'ped a permanent social networking ban as result.

Though (tragically) it is now impossible to follow Mark on the interwebs, you can follow me on Twitter for all the latest Ref-Watch updates, @JacobSouthKlein. I'm here all season.


N.B. RefWatch was devastated to learn of Howard Webb's passing this week. A bitter, bitter blow for RefWatch-ers everywhere. To quote a line from Daniel Ward-Murphy's ''The Brian McDermott Song'', ''Oh we'll miss your baldy head''.