Following on from yesterday’s selection of thoughts on the year ahead for the Select Group, here’s the rest of them. Michael Oliver is praised, Jonathan Moss is liked, and Neil Swarbrick is forgotten.
Andre Marriner, Age: 43, Home County: West Midlands
The die is cast for Andre Marriner. Sadly, the rest of his career involves jokes about mistaken identity/racism. You could argue he deserves it for the horror show that was Kieran Gibbs’s red card against Chelsea, but it seems harsh to condemn a man to weak Twitter jokes based on one mistake. He’ll remain in the Dean/Atkinson slot just below the top echelon, but like Phil Dowd and fatness, and Howard Webb and Man Utd shirts, will provoke a Pavlovian response whenever he makes an appearance. He hasn’t done the League Cup Final, so will be a big contender for that.
Who hates him: In recent times, West Brom fans have complained most vociferously. It probably doesn’t help that he’s reportedly a Villa fan.
Lee Mason, Age: 42, Home County: Lancashire
Lee Mason has the look of a man for whom things are about to go wrong, and as for all referees, they sometimes do. Another who probably won’t get too many key games, but will be trusted with a lot of donkey work. He will almost certainly be harangued by Nigel Pearson while leaving the pitch at some stage. Another who hasn’t done a domestic cup final – he probably won’t break that record, but might get a fourth official spot.
Who hates him: A key member of the imagined Mike Riley-led North West conspiracy against Arsenal, not helped by the fact his name rhymes with freemason.
Jonathan Moss, Age: 43, Home County: West Yorkshire
A relative newcomer, and not a high-flyer, but I thought he did a solid job last year, and is a welcome addition to the middle ranks of the Select Group. Unlikely to see too many high profile games, but will be busy. Might get to handle the numbers board at Wembley, but no more. My liking for him is in no way based on the extraordinarily childlike expression of concentration on his face of this photo of him playing FIFA.
Who hates him: No-one. I simply don’t believe it.
Michael Oliver, Age: 29, Home County: Northumberland
The boy who would be king finally turns 30 this year. With Webb out of the way, it’s now a straight fight between him and fellow and fellow favoured son of the North East, Mark Clattenburg, for top dog. It’s a fight he probably won’t win, even if he performs better – I think the feeling will be that he’ll get his chance later. His Community Shield appointment will probably be his biggest domestic game (in scale, not importance), but will be trusted with top of the table clashes. Interesting to see what sort of appointments he gets in Europe, expect him to play the advantage more often than anyone else.
Who hates him: Probably the most widely respected ref in the League among fans (even more so than Clattenburg), but I do vaguely remember some wronged Oldham fans dissenting at one point last season.
Craig Pawson, Age: 35, Home County: South Yorkshire
Rarely used last season, but a couple of late season fixtures suggest he will be in action a lot more this year. Highly-rated, he’ll probably be the next Englishman on the FIFA list. Not a contender for the really big games, but this season should see him as part of the regular rotation, hopefully cementing his up-and-coming reputation. Despite sounding like one of the 3 or 4 generic referee names on FIFA, I can assure you that he does exist.
Who hates him: Another who hasn’t been around long enough to demonstrate his surprisingly unprofessional bias against one unremarkable team, who he has no reason to have any antipathy towards.
Lee Probert, Age: 41, Home County: Wiltshire
The clown prince of English football refereeing is fresh from the FA Cup final, and is likely to be considered for a number of big games. On the FIFA list too, so may do a bit more overseas. Hard to see him getting a game anywhere near as important last year’s highlight, but expect to see him regularly on TV and doing something comical with the vanishing spray. Nice to see another ref, like Mark Clattenburg, who clearly enjoys his job.
Who hates him: Bit of history with Man City, but mainly people who don’t appreciate his style of comedy.
Neil Swarbrick, Age: 48, Home County: Lancashire
I know I’ve seen games that Neil Swarbrick has refereed. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen and considered decisions made by him. But I can’t recall any of the details, or ever having had a particularly strong opinion about anything he’s ever done. They say that’s the sign of a good referee, but I suspect it’s the sign of a reasonably competent one. Expect to see him continue to referee the sort of games covered by Steve Bower and Martin Fisher on Match of the Day, and then instantly forget you’ve done so.
Who hates him: There are probably people who hate him momentarily, but it never lasts.
Anthony Taylor, Age: 35, Home County: Cheshire
Either the next big thing, or the future subject of a Jose Mourinho rant. He’ll likely fluctuate between the two, turning in strong performances, while annoying a few. Has certainly stepped up to become a key part of the Select Group, and over the next ten years will most likely do all of the big domestic showpieces. Probably not this season though.
Who hates him: Another key player in the shadowy conspiracy depriving Arsenal of their rightful title. Someone should really do something about that.