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Bell in charge of West Brom trip - Referee
Monday, 23rd Oct 2023 11:58 by Clive Whittingham

Young Sheffield official James Bell, last in charge of QPR away at Southampton in August, is the man in the middle at West Brom on Tuesday.

Referee >>> James Bell (Sheffield), second year on the Championship list.

Assistants >>> Ian Cooper (Kent) and George Byrne (Suffolk), same assistants from the Southampton game.

Fourth Official >>> Scott Simpson (Stoke)


Southampton 2 QPR 1, Saturday August 26, 2023, Championship

And maybe now's the time to mention Saturday's referee Mr. James Bell of Sheffield. Only his second season in the Championship and his first time officiating QPR (and Southampton for that matter) A man who decided today was the day to reinvent the advantage rule. The Saints winner started from a free-kick given after Referee Bell had played the advantage rule for Southampton which they didn't take advantage of by playing a rare sloppy pass. So Bell blew up and let Southampton have a free-kick for the the earlier infringement. I'm no expert and the laws seemed to be being tweaked every season but I don't think this is how the advantage rule is supposed to work. He did this more than once, maybe up to three times all in Southampton's favour.

A double QPR substitution on 74 minutes (Adomah & Duke McKenna on, Smyth & Colback off) has left Sinclair Armstrong confused as he is still on the pitch. He'd had a decent game up until then. He hadn't found the net but his hold-up play is improving massively and against the seriously experienced Polish international defender Jan Bednarek he more than held his own. He was also up against the seriously inexperienced fcukwit referee James Bell who gave Sinclair nothing all day. On 15 minutes Sinc made up three yards on Bednarek on the left hand side touchline robbed him of the ball and gave himself a clear path to goal. Strength and pace winning out. Referee Bell blows for a foul by Armstrong. That's a bit harsh ref as well as potentially game changing. Minutes later Bednarek pushes Armstromg to the ground. Nothing given. Aah, I see.

The game at St. Mary's ends minutes later with Steve Cook about to take another long throw after the previous one is cleared back to him. He wipes the ball, steps back, and readies himself classic throw-in pose style and begins to move forward but the referee blows for full time. Cook is apoplectic. I stay watching Cook's reaction. He kicks the ball away and makes a bee-line for the ref. Cook is pointing at the ref, jabbing his finger. He's furious. I try and lip-read what Cook is saying. He's calling the ref by his surname and he's making a reference to the untimely conclusion of the game. "Bell-End Bell-End" I can’t vouch for the complete accuracy of this but Mr Bell-End does wave a yellow card in Cook's face in a manner I would describe as pathetic and impotent. Oh I'm so looking forward to your first game at Loftus Road Mr. B-E.

Southampton: Bazunu 6; Walker-Peters 7, Bednarek 6, Stephens 5 (Downes 25, 7), Charles 6; Manning 6, Armstrong S 5, Alcatraz 4, (Mara 56, 5): Amo-Ameyaw (Fraser 56, 6), 5 Armstrong A 7, Fandab-Edozie 7 (Aribo 83, - )

Subs not used: Lumley, Ballsy-Ketchup, Bree, DJ Eneppo, Doyle, Fraser

Bookings: Manning 11 (foul), Armstrong S 19 (exceeding the Armstrong quota), Alcatraz 29 (Wearing a Woody from Toy Story t-shirt under his shirt), Fraser 92 (foul)

Goals: Fandab-Edozie 30 (assisted Manning), Armstrong, A 64 (assisted Manning)

QPR: Begovic 5; Kakay 7, Cook 6, Fox 6: Smyth 6 (Adomah 74, 5), Dozzell 6 (Kolli 82 - ), Field 6, Colback 7 (Duke-McKenna, 74 5), Paal 6, Chair 6; Armstrong 6

Subs not used: Archer; Clarke-Salter (Let it be known), Larkeche, Dixon-Bonner, Aoraha, Bala

Bookings:Duke-McKenna 87 (Playing football in a built-up area), Field 89 (the usual), Cook FT (Giving the ref a big dollop of truth-juice)

Goals: Colback (self-made)

Referee - James Bell (Sheffield) 3 This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Much like the one we have with Keith Stroud. Bell. End. End. Of.


Bell was promoted onto the league list for the 2020/21 campaign and after two campaigns in League One and Two was upped into the Championship for the start of the 2022/23 campaign. He did 17 matches last year, nine of them at this level, with 58 yellows and three reds shown.

Two of those red cards came in Plymouth matches – one for Argyle in injury time at Portsmouth as they conceded in the last minute to draw 2-2, and another for Accrington when the Green Army won 2-0 up in Lancashire. He has a chequered past with Plymouth. In May 2021 he sent off Jerome Opoku in a 3-1 home loss to Sunderland in League One. After the game manager Ryan Lowe went to town on the young official, saying that before the match he’d been laughing and joking about how, as a Sheff Wed fan, he used to sing Lowe’s name from the terrace when he played for the Owls, but then afterwards he’d refused to meet and speak about the red card decision. This would come back to haunt Bell at the end of the 22/23 campaign when he was appointed to referee Ipswich v Charlton, until Town fans discovered the old Lowe quotes online and kicked up a stink about him doing the game given how Ipswich and Sheff Wed were locked in a promotion battle. He was replaced for the fixture. He later issued a red card to Lowe, by now Preston manager, in a game against Birmingham.

Eight games so far this season, five of them in the Championship, with 37 yellows and one red. A haul of seven yellows and a red in Exeter’s League Cup upset against Luton leads the way. West Brom had a lovely time in their two games with this official last year – beating Hull 5-2 and Stoke 2-0 at The Hawthorns, with a penalty in their favour in the former.

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