The Diary: Danger] Referees at work

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The Independent Online
TODAY, most Premiership teams will have their first taste of the new hard line of refereeing dictated by the world governing body, Fifa. What should they expect? The referees to watch, perhaps, are those who headed the cautions list in the soft old days of last season. The toughest of the regulars, David Frampton (2.50 yellow cards a match), is no longer on the list, but Keren Barratt (2.31) and Mike Reed (2.20) are. Gerald Ashby and Vic Callow were the only ones to show three red cards during the season, but Joe Worrall, who averaged only 0.38 yellow cards, did not produce the red card in 21 games. History might count for nothing, however. The once notorious Jimmy Parker didn't caution anybody during the Wolves-Reading game last Saturday.

COME ON, own up. Some of you went to your team's opening game last Saturday and could not identify that new signing. Don't worry, it can happen to anybody. At a lower division game, a reporter asked for a post-match chat with one of his local side's close-season captures, and, when a player emerged from the dressing-room, he launched into his interview. As the new signing looked more and more perplexed by the line of questioning, it suddenly dawned on the reporter that he was actually talking to the opposition's latest free-transfer acquisition.

THE Busby Babes? They were virtually pensioners compared with Benjamin McGlade. No matter that the south Londoner is only five months old and that he cannot even toddle yet. A friend of his father has wagered pounds 25 at 2,000-1 that Benjamin will play for Manchester United before his 23rd birthday. Make a note in your 2017 diary.

REFEREES are emerging from an unusual source. One of Britain's top jails, which houses sex offenders, is teaching its inmates to become football referees, but checks will be kept to make sure they don't show themselves the red card and do a runner from the pitch. Albany Prison, on the Isle of Wight, is running Football Association courses for prisoners and already nine have passed. Perhaps you'd better keep those chant suggestions to yourselves.

STILL in the world of criminals on the Isle of Wight, prison officers at Parkhurst maximum security jail, who play in the Second Division of the island's Sunday league, have signed a kit sponsorship deal with the British locks and security company, Chubb. The football link between Chubb and Parkhurst prison began three seasons ago when the company provided kit for the prisoners - with its name printed on the back of the shirts so that photographs could be taken without the players being identified.

WITH the new season comes a new football magazine with a difference. FourFourTwo, the brainchild of Karen Buchanan, is a glossy magazine aimed higher up the market than most of the traditional publications - at the 25 to 35 age group of football fanatics who want a more in-depth and considered approach to the game. The first issue opens with an interview with Terry Venables, and among an interesting array of articles is a feature on new kits, modelled by Jimmy Hill. Those who remember his playing days might think the TV pundit looks best in blazer and slacks, but of the kits, the best to my mind is Carlisle's away strip, which resembles rows of little Irish flags sewn together.

TALKING of Carlisle, the feat of Dean Walling in becoming the third player in successive seasons to score for both sides in the Cumbrians' opening match of the season was by far the most popular subject with this week's pursuers of the Wild Turkey malt. The winner is Mike Kilner of Stevenage.

Next week's curious stats to: Sports Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.