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Graham brings lenient refereeing style to Loftus Road for Forest match
Graham brings lenient refereeing style to Loftus Road for Forest match
Friday, 17th Oct 2008 01:26

Expect a good old fashioned football match this Saturday as QPR and Nottingham Forest do battle under the watchful eye of Fred Graham - a man who can go weeks at a time without awarding a free kick.

Queens Park Rangers v Nottingham Forest
Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)

Assistants – Long (Suffolk) and McKoy (Sussex)
Fourth Official – McLaughlin (Bedfordshire)

Since the last column I’ve watched plenty of football without noticing any particularly terrible officiating, although the brutal ten card massacre of Ebsfleet v Histon in the Conference on Setanta a fortnight ago was a performance for Mr Hopkins to be thoroughly ashamed of. That takes his tally to 38 yellows and two reds in just five matches this season in the Conference so no doubt we can look forward to his frankly barking mad style of officiating in the league soon, the authorities like to throw a certifiable lunatic into the mix every now and again to give you value for money.

Compare his infuriating performance with that of Romania’s Pavel Balaj in the Wales v England Under 21 match and it’s difficult to believe we were watching the same sport. I have never seen a referee wave play on to so much so often and after initially trying to take advantage by kicking lumps out of each other the players soon responded well to the official and a thoroughly enjoyable, thrilling and competitive game ensued. Massive credit to him for that and I hope the likes of Morgan, Styles, Kettle and others who think you control games by handing out cards and blowing your whistle all the time were watching and taking note.

If you enjoyed Balaj’s performance at Ninian Park then get yourself down to Loftus Road this Saturday because in Fred Graham we appear to have the English equivalent. At times in our 0-0 draw with Wolves last season I actually thought he’d left his whistle in the bogs by mistake because he too simply waved play on to everything and anything. QPR should have had a penalty in that match for a foul on Nygaard but play was waved on and all in all it made for an interesting if frustrating spectacle.

This is Graham’s first Championship match of the season. So far he has refereed six games in the bottom two divisions, League Cup and Paint Trophy, showing 15 yellows (2.5 a game) and no reds in the process. Last season he flashed just 42 yellows (1.354 a game) in 31 games and dished out only two red cards. Just by way of comparison here our old pal Trevor Kettle showed 145 yellows and six reds in 36 matches last season. Graham’s games included our 0-0 draw at home to Wolves before Christmas where he was lenient to the point of being stupid - a low mark of four good enough for joint 30th position on the referee league for last season.

Referee: Fred Graham (Essex) 4 Regular readers will know that I like a referee who keeps his cards in his pockets an allows a game to flow, but there is a limit to that and Mr Graham was so far past that limit at times it became farcical. Twice in the first half Wolves players were the victims of poor challenges from QPR players over by the South Africa Road stand and nothing was given, Buzsaky was chopped down on the edge of the area and nothing was given, Nygaard was blatantly wrestled to the floor in the penalty area and no penalty was given. He just gave nothing all afternoon, and that's great to a point, but as the players realised they could get away with things some really dangerous tackles went in and Graham is lucky nobody got hurt as a result of his slack performance. At one point I actually thought he'd left his whistle in the bogs, Dermott Gallagher stoned off his face would have given more free kicks than this guy. Poor to the point of being dangerous. LFW Wolves Match Report

Nottingham Forest fans will have happy memories of this official – he was in charge for their 3-2 win against Yeovil last season which secured their promotion. Two players were booked, one from each team. Still a relatively new official on the circuit, this his only his second meeting with both these two sides.

Elsewhere this weekend it is disconcerting to see Andy Hall back on the Championship list for the first time in a while – that useless tosser has Bristol City v Norwich. Kevin Friend has Cardiff v Charlton so bad luck to Alan Pardew and his men there, probably worth staying at home and saving on petrol, Trevor Kettle has Southampton v Watford so commiserations to all concerned there. Really worrying to see that little holy trinity all in the top division of the Football League – it means we might get lumbered with them soon. Lower down Prem ref Lee Probert, formerly a liability but recently improved, must have upset somebody as he has Lincoln v Chesterfield while Jarnail Singh has Luton v Accrington. Mike Dean has been given the Sheffield derby on Sunday.

Looking ahead to Tuesday we have Antony Bates for the long trip to Swansea, a fairly rank appointment truth be told, but more on that on Monday.

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