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May 2021

Aston Villa v Arsenal 13 December 2015 – the Match Officials, and a tribute to Ernie

Aston Villa v Arsenal 13 December 2015 – the Match Officials

by Andrew Crawshaw

Before I start on discussing referees or the upcoming game I want to pay my own brief tribute to an Arsenal legend who died last Saturday on his way to watch the Sunderland game.

Ref pic

Ernie Crouch was 90, supported Arsenal for 80 years home and away and both the Men’s and Women’s teams.  I only met him once, a few weeks ago on the supporter’s coach to the Ladies Continental Cup Final.  Without doubt many will also know Ernie and will agree that we have lost a true legend amongst supporters.  Ernie was a victim of the gales last Saturday and was blown off the pavement against a bus and died at the scene of the accident.

Ernie, our thoughts are with your family at this time and may you rest in peace (or at least apply a little intervention from on high when we most need it!).

Now on to the Table of Shame updated following the Tottenham review

Wrong Important Decisions Favouring Arsenal Favouring Opponents
2nd Yellow Cards 0 17
Red Cards 1 7
Penalties 1 14
Goals 0 4
Total 2 42
Possible Cost in Points 0 11

Ref Review : Arsenal – Tottenham – Martin Atkinson was in charge and oh boy didn’t he make a complete pigs ear of the game? 41% overall weighted score and 8 wrong Important Decisions, mostly featuring Jan Vertonghen who should have been called for three penalties and sent off three times (twice for second yellow card offences and once for violent conduct after Giroud lost his temper), Giroud should also have been sent off and so should Dier.  Tottenham defenders allowed to get away with every kind of foul in their penalty area with a blind referee looking on.  The bias in the wrong decisions was 82% in favour of Tottenham.

A disgraceful example of refereeing from someone supposed to be one of our best.

On to Sunday and the Officials are:-

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  • Referee – Kevin Friend
  • Assistants – D Bryan and D Cann
  • Fourth Assistant – J Moss

Mr Friend hasn’t been too busy yet this year, this will be only his 8th game of the season.  It will be his second Arsenal game, we last had him 7 weeks ago when we visited Swansea and won 3 – 0.  Here is the link to Walter and Usama’s review of that game.

For the first time ever… Ref Review: Swansea – Arsenal and look – A major decision in Arsenal’s favour! A historic moment.

His overall score was 74%, so adequate.  Overall bias was 60% in favour of Swansea so again acceptable (just) and he made just one wrong Important Decision when he failed to call a penalty against Mertesacker for a clear hand ball.  The wrong decision didn’t really affect the overall result as we won by three goals to nil but it was nevertheless a noteworthy occasion.

In my preview of the game Swansea v Arsenal 31 October 2015 – The Match Officials I was concerned about Mr Friend, who I used to regard as giving the best refereeing in Arsenal games.  But his standards had slipped alarmingly during 2014/15 with four games all scoring below acceptable level.

I hope the Swansea game represents a return to his better days.  If that is the case then thank you for turning away (at least partially) from the dark side.  On the other hand, it could be that he has been a second opportunity to show that the Swansea game was the aberration, we will have to see.  The Swansea preview has a comprehensive breakdown of past games, please refer to it for the full picture.

I have no ‘flags’ against either of the Assistant referees for this game and Mr Moss is normally OK.

In conclusion

  1. Mr Friend is normally a ‘home’ referee.
  2. Prior to last Season he was, by some distance the best scoring referee in Arsenal games. Last season he wasn’t and seemed to have been converted to the PGMO ‘Norm’.
  3. In his previous Arsenal game this year there were encouraging signs of him reverting back to 2012/13 form.
  4. He is not known for awarding penalties to Arsenal, so don’t go betting on us getting one.
  5. Overall bias is likely to favour Aston Villa and they are likely to benefit from ‘phantom’ fouls enabling a long ball into our penalty area for us to have to defend.
  6. Villa players are also likely to be given more leeway in challenges than Arsenal.

Arsenal on this day…

12 December 1886: The report of the score of Arsenal’s first match against Eastern Wanderers appeared in The Referee magazine – the first contemporary confirmation that the game actually took place that was discovered by the Arsenal History Society. Prior to this there were only commentaries made by contemporaries many years later.

12 December 1946: Ronnie Rooke signed for Arsenal aged 35 from Fulham.  Before signing for Arsenal he never played in the top division of English football and remains the oldest player to make his Arsenal first team debut.  David Nelson and Cyril Grant went to Fulham as part of the deal.

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17 comments to Aston Villa v Arsenal 13 December 2015 – the Match Officials, and a tribute to Ernie

  • Usama Zaka

    Rest in peace Ernie. 90 years old, my word, he had seen Arsenal through nearly every phase. That amazing ! I believe Arsenal FC should do some sort remembrance, memorial or honor his support and amazing dedication within the stadium, if they had not done until now.

  • nicky

    I would like to pay tribute to the late Ernie Crouch, whose loyalty to Arsenal FC knew no bounds.
    The bizarre way of his passing only emphasises our human frailty.
    In the midst of life….
    The 69th anniversary of the signing of Ronnie Rooke from Fulham, brought back memories for me.
    After WW2, a number of experienced players, nearing the end of their careers, were introduced at Highbury. Rooke, a prodigious scorer was one, Joe Mercer from Everton was another.
    The result? The first Division Championship in 1947/48! 😉

  • para

    Ernie Crouch, may his spirit be weighed and found balanced.

    We have the goal to take 1st place tomorrow, so we want no slip ups. On first thought i suspected we would draw because of many circumstances(hope i’m wrong) but i(and all other Arsenal fans) want the win for sure.

    Manc nearly slipped, Manu did and i wish a draw for Leicester on Mon, but again i wish us to win tomorrow, and with many goals too. 🙂

  • ob1977

    So he will only have done 8 matches this year, 2 of them Arsenal, and both away…

  • Pete

    Be warned: CL clubs doing badly again after tough midweek games…

  • Gord

    With respect to ManU losing today. The BBC is my source for the story, there are probably others. Harry Arter was one of the players for Bournemouth.

    While we had the trivial matter of playing Olympiakos in midweek, Harry Arter and his partner were coping with the birth of a child. The child did not survive birth (apparently).

    My condolences to Ernie Crouch, and to Harry Arter; and their respective families.

    A Birmingham news source, had an article up, about Wenger possibly playing a bunch of young players tomorrow, because the last practice before the game had a bunch of the Arsenal youths participating.


  • Gord


    I believe Wolves played on Friday, and Martinez was not in the lineup.

    Saturday games.

    Maitland-Niles played (started) 78m for Ipswich.

    Hull played Bolton. Akpomn started and played 77m, scoring the only goal in the 19m. Hayden was on the bench and never came off. Wellington was not in the squad for Bolton.

  • Gord


    Missed one. Zelalem started and played until mid 2nd half in Scotland.

  • marcus

    Going back to the assault on Sanchez, I wonder if he will bring criminal charges against the player who pushed him?
    Has this been done before?

  • Mandy Dodd

    RIP Ernie.
    We should be ok today, as long as we don’t get complacent, but as posted, the warnings are their for our ECL teams.
    Hopefully this ref will not be too bad, and continue the trend of allowing airborne players to be pushed into pits or hoardings…unpunished.
    Arsenal aside, refs are letting far too much go this season, even the Northwest teams have injuries stacking up.
    I am told letting things go is very Mike Riley. Let’s hope this idiot and his policies don’t result in serious injury, let alone the continual and clear decline of English and England football.
    Whatever about today, I await with interest to see who the pgmol will give us for City, ……which one will it be, Dean, Atkinson or Taylor?

  • apo Armani

    R.I.P Ernie and lets win and go top of PL in his honor today!!

  • Pete

    Saw Taylor did Man U again yesterday against Bournemouth – and added on a stack of “Fergie-time”. But, once again, didn’t work out.

  • finsbury

    Thank you for the preview.

    I remember pgMOB representative Friend initially appeared friendly and then lost his ‘form’ 🙂

    Here’s hoping that he’s realised that luminaries like Representaive Taylor are ‘ahead’ of him when it comes to the Euros.

    Somehow I imagine the villa manger won’t have sent out instructions for two handed pushes etc. which will make Friend’s job easier.

  • nicky

    I join with you in expressing sadness over the loss sustained by Harry Arter and his lady.
    The loss of a child at ANY age is hard to bear.
    But we have sure and certain hope that the loss is only temporary and that the separation will be ended in due time.

  • finsbury

    Mr. Friend listens to his friends! The Lino in this instance.

    1-0 to the Arsenal!

  • Gord

    Southern Referees _NEED_ Training

    That is apparently the official position of The FA and the Premier League’s PiGMOB. And it doesn’t look set to change any time soon.

    I’m a Canadian, and only ever did amateur game officiating in Alberta; not high level stuff like Walter and others at Untold. I became a referee, because my FA said that every team had to provide one player to become a referee. I think we got paid $15 or so per game, usually as the sole official. The higher 2 or 3 divisions of amateur usually got linespeople as well.

    Let’s pretend that Arsenal decides to try and help things out. What can they do? What will they be allowed to do? I am going to guess, and some things may not be possible or realistic.

    Most of this revolves around referees being “sponsored” by Arsenal. But, something else first. Players get a training camp to prepare for the season which is about to begin. Arsenal could offer something like this for referees.

    Okay, sponsored referees. Arsenal decides to “sponsor” some number of referees, and part of the decision as to who to sponsor depends on the ability of a potential referee to get to Arsenal, as well as for Arsenal to get to the referee. I am mostly thinking youth referees here, or just amateur games.

    All games done by a sponsored referee are provided with:
    1. An accessor to watch the game.
    2. A pair of age appropriate “club linesmen” to indicate out of bounds.
    3. A “game manager” who is present to help the referee deal with unruly spectators (I am thinking parents here), who has a cell phone, and who will call security or police if need be.
    4. Telephony. Referee and linesmen get radios to be in conversation during game. A recording is made, and transcripts will be available. Does the accessor need to be in on this? The game manager?
    5. Video and audio. I am thinking 5 stations, all on one side of the field. One station on the midway line (3m off pitch?), one on the goal line (3m off pitch) where the cameras are at a height of 8 feet off the ground level of the ground at the goal post (camera is looking along the top of the cross bar), and one on the side line (3m off the pitch) at the same height as the midfield camera (and a similar pair for the other end). The camera stations at the corners of the field need 90 degree coverage, the midfield station needs 180 degree coverage. Each of the 3 sets of camera stations, shall have directional audio microphones.

    Every game done by the referee gets recorded. Recordings are available to the accessor in the event the referee wants a formal assessment done of that game. Recordings are also accessible to bona fide researchers. Do you make them available to local FA for disciplinary purposes?

    Four people at the game, all that equipment, and people in the back room to process this; this is a substantial committment of support for referee development.

    Referees should arrive early to inspect the grounds. Some times this is not done, or not done seriously. The sponsored referee gets a 25% bonus for treating this inspection professionally (in addition to what their local FA pays them).

    All sponsored referees are expected to participate in some formal assessments. These have to be booked, as the “club linesmen” need to attend as well. There is some minimum number of formal assessments they must attend, in order to be part of the sponsorship system. At most, they can attend assessments for all the games they did. Attend, hmm. They must not only attend, they must participate (seriously) in the assessment. And they get paid for this.

    The sponsored referees are first choice for any tournaments that Arsenal may sponsor.

    This provides a slight financial boost to that received by referees who are not sponsored. But most of the investment is of an educational nature; educating people to become referees or providing data to bona fide researchers.