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Ref-Watch: Preston North End (H)

Find out about this weekend's man in the middle and the club's #RespectTheRef campaign.

Pete Norton/Getty Images

The referee for Reading’s final home game of the season will be Darren Deadman, which is perhaps fitting considering some of our players have acted like ‘dead men walking’ in the last few months.

You’d have thought with a surname like that, Darren has a ready-made nickname. But it appears not. After being promoted to the Football League referees group back in 2005, Deadman was known as 'The Fastest Card in the West' by his peers, going from horror film to western film real quick. Darren explains it:

'In those days, perhaps I was very quick to act. Now, I think I'm firm but fair.''

By looking at his 2015-16 statistics that does seem to be the case. In 33 games in all competitions, the Cambridgeshire whistle-blower has shown 99 yellow cards (who will be the 100th player in Deadman’s book on Saturday?) and three red cards. Compare that to 41 yellows and six reds in 12 games in 2004-05, and you can see why he earned the above nickname.

A transport officer for Peterborough City Council by day, Deadman has been the man in the middle in six previous Reading fixtures – three wins and three defeats. The most recent of those games was a 3-2 loss at Charlton in March 2015, when he gave the Addicks a penalty and sent Danny Williams off. Nicky Shorey was also sent off by Deadman against Reading when he was playing for Nottingham Forest in 2010.

The assistant referees at the Madejski Stadium will be Ryan T Atkin and Ronald Ganfield, whilst Darren England is on fourth official duty.

*****

It’s not often we promote referees here on Ref-Watch, but with the club launching #RespectTheRef this week, I thought it ought to feature. We have complained about the standard of refereeing a lot this season, but to hurl abuse at them is not the answer. They are human beings like the rest of us, and we have to remember that without them, there would be no game to watch.