Championship debut for youngest referee

Last updated : 25 January 2008 By Tony Scholes
with dad Clive
There is a link to a recent home game, the 1-0 defeat against Bristol City that brought the curtain down on 2007. That day the referee was Clive Oliver who just happens to be Michael's dad.

Two seasons ago they actually officiated together for a League Cup tie between Rotherham and Port Vale at Millmoor. Just to show how ridiculous some of the rules are, they had to travel from Newcastle to Rotherham in separate cars although Michael still lives at home with his parents. Rules don't allow for officials to travel together to games.

Last season he was refereeing in the Conference and ended the season by getting the play off final at Wembley, but in August, on the second Saturday of the season, he was in charge of his first Football League game between Mansfield and Lincoln, just four days after his dad had refereed our Carling Cup tie at Grimsby.

Tomorrow will be his 19th game and in the 18 so far he's not gone over the top with the cards although he has only had one game without any cards. In those 18 games he's handed out 40 yellow cards whilst also showing four red cards.

Of those yellow cards 15 of them have gone to home team players with 25 of them to away team players, whilst all of the players he's sent off have been away team players.

I don't think I can recall a game previously when only one of our players, tomorrow it will be Chris McCann, is younger than the referee.

He will be assisted by Gary Hilton (Lancashire) and Richard Wigglesworth (South Yorkshire) whilst the fourth official duties will be carried out by Ian Nolan (Lancashire).