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April 2021

The FA Cup Final – It’s Probert (which is bad), but the crowd can still swing it.

The FA Cup Final – Arsenal v Hull – The Match Officials

By Andrew Crawshaw


  • Referee – Lee Probert (Wiltshire FA)
  • Assistants – Jake Collin (Liverpool FA) and Mick McDonough (Northumberland FA)
  • Fourth Official – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire and Rutland FA)
  • Reserve Assistant Referee – Simon Bennett (Staffordshire FA)


A few things I didn’t know

  1. A Referee only does the FA Cup Final once
  2. This will complete a hat-trick of appearances at Wembley for Mr Probert, having previously refereed the 2010 FA Trophy Final and been Fourth Official in the 2011 FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Stoke.
  3. The Officials are appointed by the FA Referees’ Committee (Maurice Armstrong, Peter Barnes, Ron Barston, Mark Collins, David Crick, David Elleray (C), David Horlick (VC), Eddie King, Ray Lewis and Roger Pawley, Co-opted Member Mike Riley – FIFA Referees’ Committee)
  4. The appointment of Mr Probert was unanimous

A Potted Biography of Mr Probert

He is 41 years old, born on the Isle of Wight but now lives in Wiltshire.  He began his career in the Conference South before making the step up to the Football League in 1998.  He was an assistant referee for five years and was promoted referee in 2003.

He had a one-off trial in the Premier League when he took control of Sheffield United’s 1 – 1 draw with Portsmouth in January 2007.  He was elevated to the top flight for the start of the 2007/8 season and elevated again to the FIFA list in 2010.  In the Premier League he has refereed 138 matches, issuing 22 red and 346 yellow cards.  This season he has refereed 21 times; Arsenal four times but Hull have yet to see him.

How often have the various Officials been together this year?

  • On 27 October Kevin Friend was fourth Official for Mr Probert in the North-east derby between Sunderland and Newcastle (2-1).  That is the only game this year with the two of them in tandem this year.
  • Mr Bennett has not appeared with Mr Probert all season
  • Mr McDonough has been Assistant to Mr Probert for his last three games

✴26 April – Man U v Norwich (4-0)

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✴3 May – Everton v Man City (2 – 3)

✴11 May – West Brom v Stoke (1-2)

  • Mr Collins also joined Mr McDonough for the game on 11 May

So Mr Probert has had a full run out with both Assistants recently and there shouldn’t be any excuses for failures of communication.

Mr Probert and Arsenal

Here is a tabular summary of Arsenal’s history with Mr Probert compared with our overall league averages with all referees

PL Games pre 2013/4  797 426 (53.4%) 212 (26.6) 159 (20.0)
PL Games 2013/4 38 24 (63.2) 7 (16.4) 7 (18.4)
All PL Games to date 835 450 (53.8) 219 (26.2) 167 (20.0)
Non-Probert Refereed 816 440 (53.9) 214 (26.2) 162 (19.9)
Probert Refereed 12 5 (41.7) 4 (33.3) 3 (25.0)

Mr Probert is not one of our better referees, we win significantly fewer games with the balance being distributed evenly between draws and losses.

Last year Mr Probert cemented his reputation of being one of our worse referees his bias against Arsenal was  a massive -36.5, only Mason (-40) Taylor (-42) and Swarbrick (-61) were worse.  In contrast, Kevin Friend was the best (least biased) Arsenal referee with a score of -4.5.

This year we have had him four times

19 October – Arsenal v Norwich (4-1)

Arsenal at our magnificent best – Goal of the season from Jack, two from Özil and a solo effort from Ramsey.  Fabulous support from a packed home ground and Probert didn’t do (wasn’t allowed by the crowd to do) anything seriously wrong.  He was his usual self in not awarding a free kick outside the Norwich penalty area and denying Arsenal a stone-wall penalty in extra time.  Untold also played its part with three articles prior to the game highlighting Mr Probert’s past misdemeanors in Arsenal Games.

29 December – Newcastle v Arsenal (0-1)

Probert back to his usual useless self, Tiote and Williamson for Newcastle, in particular, allowed to kick our players whenever and wherever they chose with no cards being issued, Arsenal players carded for the slightest infringements.  A second half header from Giroud for the only goal of the game and then Arsenal hanging on for dear life

18 January – Arsenal v Fulham (2-0)

Fulham trying very hard not to lose led to a very tense first half.  In the second half Arsenal pressure told in the end with two from Santi, the first an easy finish following a one-two with Wilshere, the second a solo effort from distance.  I can’t remember Mr Probert at all from this game so I guess he has a good one (for him at least).  It was a home game which always helps with him in charge though.

25 March – Arsenal v Swansea (2-2)

An early 11th minute header from Bony gave Swansea the lead.  Arsenal stepped things up in the second half with Podolski, on as a sub, volleying the equaliser in Minute 72 and he then set up a tap in for Giroud one minute later.  Arsenal held the lead until an unlucky accident at the death, Per made a block, Szcz on the ground kicks the ball which hits Flamini and rebounds into the net, the match ending in a draw.

Swansea on a break at the end as Probert blew for full time not happy and surrounded the officials after the final whistle.  The time on the clock on Arsenal Player showed 4 min and 38 seconds of added on time had been played with 4 minutes having been indicated.

I rewatched the game for this preview and Probert did very little wrong.  There was one bad foul which earned Bony a yellow card, one penalty shout at each end in the first half, both rightly turned down.  Possibly Santi was pushed in the box in Min 70 but there was no good replay to show one way or the other, so I’l go with a third correct non deciaion.  First fouls from both teams spotted and penalised which was good refereeing, as were the number of advantages allowing the game to flow.

In conclusion

  1. Mr Probert is essentially a home referee, Arsenal supporters have to make enough noise to make him believe we are the home team
  2. Mr Probert always tends to give more licence for opposition players to foul/kick the s..t out of Arsenal whilst penalising Arsenal for breathing on the opposition
  3. It is unlikely that there will be a penalty to Arsenal during normal play.
  4. If Mr Probert reproduces the kind of performance that he did in the Swansea game I will have no problems.


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15 comments to The FA Cup Final – It’s Probert (which is bad), but the crowd can still swing it.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Big responsibility for the Gooners in Wembley for this match: get on his back from the moment he turns against us. He must feel and think he is doing us at the Emirates.

    The good thing is that this season our team has been able to overcome his lenient style of refereeing. As said a lot to do with being at home

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice Andrew , do agree that the Arsenal supporters make so much noise that it disorientates Probert enough into thinking we are the home team !
    I do hope that the team play to the best of their ability and make us all proud .Forward and onwards !
    Up the Gunners !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    As for the AAAA , ah , just fuck them !

    I envy thee not thy faith, which is ever in thy mouth but never in thy heart nor in thy practice
    (Walter Scott, “Ivanhoe”)

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The common conception is that motivation leads to action, but the reverse is true — action precedes motivation. You have to ”prime the pump” and get the juice flowing, which motivates you to work on your goals. Getting momentum going is the most difficult part of the job, and often taking the first step is enough to prompt you to make the best of your day.
    (Robert Mckain)

  • Gord

    Andrew, did you get your birthplace from Premier League? Wikipedia had something different, I expect your source is more reliable.

    Reading the BBC this morning, I suspect one Arsenal “supporter” won’t be making much noise (Piers, “I live to be annoying” Morgan). Maybe he’ll get hit by a ball and choke on a pie.

  • Damilare

    Let’s go for it GUNNERS.


  • para

    Arsenal will go for it, and finish the season in style.
    We have to overcome Probert AND Hull, but we can do it, we know that.

    Just been watching “the invincibles”(not the cartoon) in my preparation for next season.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    The official FA website states “The 41 year old who originally hails from the Isle of Wight but now lives in Wiltshire….”
    I translated that to was born on. Maybe I got the meaning wrong.

  • Gord

    Okay, so its ambiguous. It is more likely Wikipedia is wrong, since it can be edited by anyone. Thanks.


  • proudkev

    It doesn’t matter who the referee is. In fact I wouldn’t be bothered if Adrian Durham was in the middle, Alan Brazil and Alan Hansen were running the line, and Peter Wood was the 4th official. We are going to win.

    I believe in our team. We have Ramsey back with his energy and goal threat, Ozil fit after a nice lay off and a group of players that really seem to have bonded on and off the pitch. I am expecting a big performance from the boys and reward for the hard work they have put in against much adversity.

    It is finally the time when the monkey on our backs is consigned to history.

    We are back, bigger and financially stronger than ever before and ready to take our place as the dominant force in English football. I cant wait.


  • Gord

    A nice article about a Welshman about to play in a FA Cup final. WalesOnline seems to be quite good at nice writeups.

    Actually, Walter’s pointer to that BleacherReport interview surprised me. I had begun to think of BleacherReport as nothing but crap. Maybe it is just mostly crap? 🙂


  • Jax

    Just seen Probert on BBC Points West, and he actually said that he wants to “keep it like a normal Saturday or Tuesday night game”. Some chance!

  • Mandy Dodd

    If I was Steve bruce, I would be playing for penalties, within the ninety mins with this ref. our keeper and defence may have to be very careful.
    Just hope he uses this game to show the world he can at times be a god ref, but this guy worries me.

  • Gianni Dioro

    Just praying we get a fair and impartial referee display which sticks to the rules and applies bookings appropriately.

    While we Gunners are anxiously awaiting this FA Cup final, the neutral fan may not be so enthused about an Arsenal v. Hull City final. But what do you expect? All the big boys met earlier in the competition and knocked each other out, and then Man City got ousted in the quarter-finals by the current Cup holders, Wigan.

    My thoughts also turn towards the Charity Shield in August. Now the Premier League as a brand should want to have the most appealing line up for this match, namely Man City v. Arsenal as opposed to Man City v. Hull, a game many may have little interest in watching. So for the sake of all that is good and honest and also good for the league, Arsenal must win this match tomorrow.

    So please, Probert, officiate a good match and give us a fair chance to show the best football we can play. Give the fans a chance to see a great FA Cup and hopefully a great Charity Shield match between two heavy weights, Arsenal and Man City.

  • DB10

    “It is unlikely that there will be a penalty to Arsenal during normal play.”
    Could that be any more accurate prediction?