You have to feel for Keith Stroud. The Premier League have trialled him a few times now, yet he’s never been named a permanent official.
He has taken charge of 15 top division matches to date, with the latest being Crystal Palace’s 2-0 win over Leicester back in September, which followed a five year absence from the Premier League. Stroud has also taken charge of a few big League Cup clashes this season, such as Arsenal vs Southampton and Liverpool vs Swansea, but the majority of his 35 games in 2014-15 have come in the Championship.
Since the start of the campaign, the Hampshire official has produced a staggering 151 yellow cards and seven reds, averaging at 4.5 cards per game. In fact, there have only been three games this season where he’s not produced multiple cards.
Stroud has already been the man in the middle of two Bournemouth games this season (they've won both), but has not taken charge of Royals fixture since March last year as we drew 1-1 at home Huddersfield.
In total, we've played nine games with Stroud as the ref – winning six, drawing once and losing two. One of those defeats was a 6-4 loss to Tottenham in December 2007. He also sent off Matt Mills twice in the space of two months in 2010, as the defender was given an early bath by Stroud against Doncaster and Ipswich.
History lesson over with (although the past is better than the present at the moment in Berkshire), and I can tell you that as well as his high card count, Keith has awarded 11 penalties this season.
Mr Stroud sounds like the kind of ref who doesn’t take any prisoners, and certainly one who won’t take pity on a team of youngsters that Steve Clarke could send out against Bournemouth. But then again, it’s better than a key player being sent off by this card-happy ref just before Wembley…