Mr Gavin Ward. The man subject to many puns on Ref-Watch by both myself and Jacob in the two Reading games he officiated last season. Mainly because his name is so easy to Gavinclude in said jokes.
He is in charge once again as the Royals visit Portsmouth in the Capital One Cup tonight, in a similar scenario to the game that Ward took charge of in round one. A high flying League Two side (Wycombe) host a struggling Championship side that should be doing better (Fulham), with the visitors scraping a 1-0 win. Replace the words Wycombe and Fulham with Portsmouth and Reading, and you have tonight’s match-up – hopefully with the same outcome.
History does also point towards a win for the boys in African violet, as we have lost just once in six matches when Ward is the man in the middle, albeit that defeat came in Steve Clarke’s first game in charge back in December against Watford. The other five games have ended in one draw and five Reading wins. One of those victories was the promotion clinching 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest in April 2012 which sent the Madejski Stadium into pitch invasion pandemonium.
In 2014-15, the Surrey official reffed a total of 33 games in all competitions, giving 121 yellow cards, nine reds and 11 penalties. All of those statistics are quite high compared to his fellow whistle-blowers.
The 45 year old (yes, despite his baby face he is that old!) is now into his ninth season as a Football League official and his most recent game was the 2-2 draw between Bristol City and Leeds last Wednesday, when he gave seven yellow cards as well as a penalty.
The way things are going, we could be seeing plenty more spot-kicks at Fratton Park, but not because Ward is blowing for every challenge inside the box if you get what I’m saying…