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Men In Black - Leeds Utd
Men In Black - Leeds Utd
Friday, 18th Feb 2011 10:10

The referee for the next Norwich City game, tomorrow at Elland Road is Lancastrian Neil Swarbrick.

So far this season, Swarbrick has been in charge of 26 games, with just three games without a card being shown. Swarbrick's record so far has him producing the yellow five times in five games and one of six cards.

His last match involving Leeds, the very first of the 2010/2011 season resulted in three bookings for Leeds players and two for Derby County.

The last game involving Norwich was back in April, 2009, when Norwich's Alan Gow was booked and Alex Bruce, Pablo Gounago and Danny Haynes were booked in a game that left Roger Munby in tears as relegation seemed to have been rubbed into Norwich supporters' faces when Ipswich won the game 3-2.

Swarbrick's red card has seen daylight four times so far this season. Luckily, Norwich City has escaped this casino dealer in black this season. Although against a feisty Leeds side, Swarbrick will, no doubt, be in his element flashing his cards about.

This is Ref World' piece on Swarbrick.

Neil is another referee who started refereeing somewhat later than most National List officials being twenty nine. Making rapid progress he reached the National List of assistant referees in only six years, spending four years at this level before being promoted to the referees’ list. He has refereed the Pontins’ League Cup Final and a Conference Play Off Semi-Final and has also officiated at FL Play Off Semi- Finals.

How did you get introduced into refereeing?

Whilst working nights at a former company in the mid 90’s a work colleague who at the time was a National List referee cajoled me into running a line for him in a Lancashire Police Cup fixture. As it was an afternoon kick off he always struggled to get a couple of assistants for the games. He knew I played football and had a rough understanding off the game so I went along to help him out. He encouraged me to join the Lancashire FA and it just progressed from there. 

What has been the highlight of your career so far? 

Without doubt receiving the letter, which congratulated me on my promotion to the National List of referees (pending passing the fitness test of course).

What is the best game you have officiated and why? 

I’d have to say my last ever Panel fixture as a referee. It was the semi final 2nd Leg of the Conference Play Offs between Carlisle United and Aldershot on the 6th May 2005. I only received the appointment two days before the game due to the original referee unfortunately being taken off the game. A slice of luck on my part which I believe you always need to progress in whatever you are doing. Aldershot were a goal up from the first leg but with a crowd of over 10,000 cheering on the home team they equalised early on. It was a typical cup-tie with both teams going for it. Carlisle went 2-1 up on aggregate only for Aldershot to equalise in the last few minutes of normal time. No more goals in extra time and when Aldershot went 3-1 up on pens with only two each left you’d have thought it was game over but the Carlisle keeper saved the next two and both Carlisle penalties were converted. Then it was sudden death, Aldershot scored only for Carlisle to equalise, and then Aldershot missed their next one. At this point Carlisle supporters thought their team had won and streamed onto the pitch in there hundreds. There was a delay of about five minutes whilst the pitch was cleared before the winning penalty was taken. 

What are your aims as a National List Referee?

To continue to establish myself on the National List and put myself in the frame for refereeing a Premiership fixture. 

What skills do you think you need to become a referee? 

To have empathy for the game and the man management skills whilst still keeping control of the match.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career and why? 

When I was refereeing at Local and Supply Level Jim Bryson (Preston Referees Society) gave me tremendous support and encouragement. Throughout my career Eddie Wolstenholme has given me fantastic guidance. Always supplying me with advice on a variety of issues /problems I have encountered. As an ex work colleague and my first Panel /Football League Coach I could not of hand picked a better ally.

In your opinion who is/was the best referee? 

Jack Taylor – World Cup Final Referee. An absolute gentleman who reached the pinnacle of the refereeing profession.


Swarbrick's assistants tomorrow are fellow Lancastrians Peter Gooch and Ryan Johnson.

Fourth Official is named as Simon Clayton from Co. Durham

Photo: Action Images

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