Outside the Box: Atkinson deep in the red and well on way to double figures again

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The Independent Online

If Everton would be displeased to see the card-sharp Martin Atkinson appointed as referee for any of their games in the near future, Liverpool are unlikely to complain.

Including the controversial dismissal of Jack Rodwell in last Saturday's Merseyside derby, rightly rescinded, Atkinson has now sent off eight opposing players in Liverpool games, but only two of their own: Paul Scholes and Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United), Brad Freidel (Aston Villa), Caleb Folan (Hull), Laurent Koscielny and Emmanuel Frimpong (Arsenal) and Everton's Steven Pienaar and now Rodwell, compared with Liverpool's Sotiros Kyrgiakos (in the same game as Pienaar last season) and Joe Cole against Arsenal.

Last season Atkinson was the only referee to reach double figures for red cards in Premier League games with 10; Howard Webb, regarded as England's top official, handled more matches and showed just two. This season Atkinson again tops the list of reds, Rodwell being his fourth in seven matches, though there are referees who hand out more yellow cards, Webb among them.

Blow to morale at Kettering

The Premier League is not the only place where penalty-takers are having a hard time.

In the Blue Square Bet Premier, Hayes & Yeading's 22-year-old goalkeeper Steve Arnold, who is on loan from Wycombe, saved five out of five penalties in his team's first 10 matches of the season. When he was injured last week, Delroy Preddie saved a kick from Kettering's Moses Ashikodi in the last minute of a 5-3 win. A remark from Jean-Paul Marna, who felt he should have taken the kick, caused the team-mates to come to blows and both received red cards.

Meanwhile, Haringey & Waltham Development of the Essex Senior League are claiming a record after being awarded 10 penalties in eight consecutive games. But they missed four of them, which has contributed to them being stuck at the bottom of the table.

Winners are still lost

Outside the Box is doing its bit to help Leeds United in their search for two members of the 1992 Championship-winning squad ahead of the 20th anniversary dinner on 29 October: Rod Wallace and Chris Whyte.

Wallace scored 11 League goals that season, including the opener in the 3-2 win at Sheffield United that guaranteed the title. He was last heard of coaching at non-League Molesey in Surrey, who put us in contact with him.

Whyte missed only one game all season, then drifted down the divisions and finished his career in Finland eight years later.

Stand is delivered at last

Port Vale are finally finishing off a new stand at Vale Park, 13 years after construction began. The £3m plan was unveiled in 1998 when they were eighth in what is now the Championship, but as they plunged down the divisions it was abandoned because of a lack of funds, and half of the edifice stood idle.

Funds have been provided by Blue Sky, a US firm who are also financing training facilities and a "Robbie Williams Suite", named after the club's major shareholder, which Vale announced a mere five years ago.

Sven charm fails to woo Mrs B

Sven Goran Eriksson says he met the Beckhams and mentioned the possibility of David joining Leicester City, with the bonus of preparing for a place in the Olympic team. But the proposal was dismissed by Mrs B, who told him tartly: "Sven, can you imagine me in Leicester?"

s.tongue@independent.co.uk; www.twitter.com/@stevetongue

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