I’ve never met Fred Graham, but he sounds like the kind of guy that is everyone’s mate. Heralding from Essex, you can imagine him down the pub watching the football with a few beers (#DrinkAware). In truth, that’s really who he is. A die hard football fan, he used to follow his boyhood team Arsenal up and down the country as well as regularly go to England games. Fred even used to play a bit himself at Sunday League level until a horror tackle broke his ankle aged 24.
That’s when he began refereeing, and he has worked his way up to be a Football League official since 2004 (with one season back in non-league). He has gone from watching the Three Lions at Wembley, to refereeing there himself, as Graham cites his proudest moment as being the fourth official at the 2010 League One Play-Off final between Millwall and Swindon. You’ll be pleased to hear that it was The Robins who lost!
He has taken charge of a Reading game on six previous occasions, but it doesn’t make for good reading with just one Royals win, three draws and two defeats. In the most recent encounter, a 1-1 draw against Brighton in March 2014, Chris Gunter put the ball into his own net and a certain Royston Drenthe scored his first Reading goal.
So far in 2015-16, Graham has been the man in the middle on nine occasions (once in the Championship), and has given 35 yellow cards but no reds. In fact, you have to go back to May 2014 for the last time he showed a red card, meaning he went the entirety of last season without showing one. Penalties are equally as hard to come by with the 51 year old in charge, as he is yet to award one this campaign, and only gave two spot-kicks the whole of 2014-15. Now that’s what you call lenient.