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Nield in charge of Hull trip - Referee
Friday, 12th Apr 2024 09:02 by Clive Whittingham

Championship newbie Tom Nield, last seen with us for our home game with Coventry, is the man in the middle on Saturday as the R’s head to Hull.

Referee >>> Tom Nield (West Yorkshire)

Assistants >>> George Byrne (Suffolk) and Hristo Karaivanov (Sutton-in-Ashfield)

Fourth Official >>> Thomas Parsons (Rochdale)


QPR 1 Coventry 3, Saturday September 30, 2023, Championship

At 2-0 down Sinclair Armstrong was brought on from the bench. You and I can only speculate on why it took until the game had left the building for the change to be made. One of the reasons we’ve been so easy to play against and beat over the last 18 months is the team is slow as rust, and one of the reasons we got wins at Cardiff and Middlesbrough is because Armstrong and Smyth played well and scared the opposition with their speed. Whatever you say – and you’d be right – about Armstrong’s fitness, temperament, fundamental level of skill, first touch… he’s one of the few we’ve got who frightens opponents. Within 60 seconds of coming on he’d piled straight through the side of Kyle McFadzean’s skull – the Coventry defender to this point could have played in a dinner jacket – and then continued on into the penalty box on the line of which he was unceremoniously and blatantly chopped down by the Coventry goalkeeper Ben Wilson. I’ve been racking my brains all day for a more blatant penalty, and I’m still racking. Short of pulling out a gun and shooting the guy, I’m not really sure what else the referee wanted to award a spot kick. It was, if we weren’t so invested, laughable. So obvious it’s funny.

QPR, and Sinclair Armstrong, did not get their penalty. Referee Tom Nield, in just his fourth Championship match, had run past Armstrong’s aerial battle with McFadzean but, crucially, then turned back to check on the Coventry man on the ground. While he did so Wilson cleaned Armstrong out at the ankles. So, now you had a new referee, faced with a player on the floor, a home team and crowd appealing, with no idea how he got there or what had happened. What Nield needed at that point was help from his assistant, Staffordshire’s Craig Taylor, on the Ellerslie Road side of the ground. Sadly - and it is sadly because on a human level you cannot help but feel for a young referee drowning in the manner Nield did here on what is a big career moment for him – you could have taken a rabid goose down the Crown and Sceptre, plied the horrid creature with rum for the afternoon, then sent it out to flap around gormlessly on the line, and it would have got more decisions correct by accident than the apparently terminally, chronically useless Mr Taylor managed. Sent out as a more experienced member of a team to help out a naïve, newbie referee, he should be embarrassed at his part in the farce that ensued. This is the second home game in a row we’ve had a rookie referee making a Championship bow, which you’d think would be accompanied by the best and most experienced assistants they could muster to nurse him through the big day, and on both occasions they’ve been badly hamstrung by a remedial idiot on the line. Taylor looked straight across at the penalty of all penalties, spoke to Nield in his earpiece, and came up with a goal kick. A goal kick. A goal kick. I cannot speyk. It was a lot of things before it was a goal kick. It was a moon landing before it was a goal kick.

The only thing Gareth Ainsworth got right on Saturday was in his post-match where he said the officiating was not at the standard required for this level of football. If you dropped Warwick Davis in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a Vauxhall Cavalier tied to his leg, he wouldn’t have been as out of his depth as Tom Nield was in this fixture. He spent the first half letting everybody away with everything. There was a foul by Liam Kelly on Ilias Chair after 21 minutes that was a card yellower than the sun. Referee awarded just a free kick. Kelly took this as an invitation to do as he pleased: tactical fouls galore, and referee the game into the bargain. Don’t mistake this for bitterness in defeat Coventry fans, I was jealous, I wish we were as street smart. Kelly’s foul on 21 was followed by Bobby Thomas doing the same on 24, Louis Binks on 26, Kelly again on 27, Kelly again on 33, match reporter’s nightmare Latibeaudiere on 44 (consonant please Carol)… Game management. Tactical fouling. A smart manager. A superior team. But you expect, at some point, a referee to get involved in this. When he finally, finally, finally, had to pull on his big boy’s pants and book Jay Dasilva for deliberately hauling down Chris Willock, the panick it induced saw him immediately show one the other way to Smyth for… dissent? Maybe? Relative to what Kelly had been up to… I’m just man shouting at cloud now but fuck me dead.

Post Armstrong penalty catastrophe Nield lost what non-existent control he’d had of the game to that point entirely. Armstrong, as we’ve come to expect, steamed into his next tackle and kicked somebody up in the air. He’s now one card away from a ban, and has been booked in nine of his last 19 games. I actually didn’t mind it. The game had gone, we’re getting done at home again, the referee’s lost the plot, fuck it let’s take a few with us. Steve Cook was booked for dissent as things descended still further. Kelly was eventually booked for delaying a free kick being taken, and that was the correct decision, but it was also the sixth, seventh, eighth time that had happened and it had continued to happen because the referee allowed it to continue to happen.

Nield is a product of the system that has generated him. The sport in this country is awash with cash. Refereeing in the Premier League should draw a salary running into the several million a year, basic. It should be a hugely desirable and sought after role: a chance to be involved in professional football, travel the world, be a part of the Premier League. The training should be the best in the world. Teenage boys and girls not quite good enough to play professionally, but keen to be involved in the sport, should be recruited into this en masse with the realistic prospect of walking out at Arsenal v Tottenham, live on Sky, on a seven figure salary. The entire sport should be focused on increasing the refereeing talent pool to drive up standards. The money is there to do it. But they don’t. We still have referees and assistants at our level who are part time – and do you feel like coming and running the line on the Ellerslie Road side of our ground after a week in your day job? The training is sub-standard. The management is jobs for the boys (when the VAR ballsed up at Man Utd v Wolves it was Jon Moss sent waddling out to do the press!!). The pay is pathetic. The abuse and criticism is chronic and over the top. And, so, who do you attract to do the job? Weirdoes and wankers.

A collection of largely mediocre, and incredibly smug, Premier League referees were allowed to grow old together when they should have been pensioned off many years ago – Friend, Dean, Moss, Mason – and into that void they’ve had to suck up whatever halfway acceptable EFL officials they could find, which is why you’ve now got Darren England up there torching the laws of the game and all common sense. Into those vacancies we’re now having to fast track kids like Nield who are miles and miles off the level, and have all the feel for the game that I did my first pair of tits round the back of the Grimsby Wimpey. The least you could do is send him out there with an assistant who could win a couple of rounds of find your own arse with both hands, but Nield is a product of the system that created him, and games like this, with decisions like that Armstrong nonsense, are the result. A result we’ll continue to see. Over and over again.

QPR: Begovic 4; Kakay 4, Cook 4, Fox – (Clarke-Salter 2, 4); Smyth 5, Dozzell 5, Field 4, Paal 6; Willock 4 (Armstrong 61, 6), Chair 6, Dykes 4

Subs not used: Archer, Dixon-Bonner, Larkeche, Kelman, Duke-McKenna, Adomah, Kolli

Goals: Paal 90 (assisted Armstrong)

Bookings: Smyth 53 (dissent), Armstrong 63 (foul), Cook 65 (dissent), Dozzell 77 (foul)

Coventry: Wilson 6: Thomas 6, MacFadzean 7, Binks 6; Latibeaudiere 6, Eccles 7, Kelly 7, Dasilva 6; Allen 7 (Ayari 69, 6); Simms 7 (Wright 69, 6), Godden 6

Subs not used: Sakamoto, Kitching, Bidwell, Collins, Rus, Stretton, Obikwu

Goals: Simms 56 (assisted Binks), 68 (assisted Allen), Eccles 60 (assisted Latibeaudiere)

Bookings: Dasilva (foul), Allen 77 (delaying the restart)

Referee – Tom Nield (West Yorkshire) 3 A little boy lost at sea. Assistants who should have been helping him stay afloat instead chucking him lead weights. A product of the system that created him and really quite sad to watch. This officiating team of three, performing like this, has absolutely no business whatsoever at this level of football at this point in their careers.

QPR 2 Oxford 0, Tuesday August 24, 2021, League Cup

QPR: Archer 7; Odubajo 6, Kakay 6, Dickie 8 (Gubbins 88, -), Dunne 7, McCallum 6 (Duke-McKenna 64, 6); Thomas 6, Dozzell 6, Chair 7 (Alfa 75, 6); Willock 7, Kelman 6

Subs not used: Walsh

Goals: Dickie 26 (unassisted), Chambers-Parillon og 40 (assisted Chair)

Bookings: Chair 66 (kicking ball away)

Oxford: Eastwood 7; Chambers-Parillon 5, McNally 6, Moore 6, Seddon 7; Sykes 6, Rodriguez 6, McGuane 5 (Brannagan 46, 7); Agyei 6, Winnall 5 (Johnson 69, 6), Holland 6 (Whyte 46, 6)

Subs not used: Taylor, Stevens, Mousinho, Cooper

Bookings: Sykes 59 (foul), Johnson 76 (foul)

Referee — Tom Nield (West Yorkshire) 8 Liked him. Quite a feisty, keenly contested cup tie at times and he kept right on top of that, getting some big penalty calls from Oxford right in the second half.


Nield made his Championship bow last season with West Brom’s 1-0 home win against Reading and Stoke’s 1-0 home loss to Wigan. He was also part of the referee exchange programme that included him doing three leagues in Japan’s J League in March. He finished up with 100 yellows (2.857) and three reds from 35 games. That included six yellows and a red in Coventry’s remarkable 4-3 FA Cup defeat at home to Conference champions Wrexham – his only fixture with the Sky Blues to this point. Weirdly got two of Stockport’s three games in the League Two play-offs last year – a semi-final win against Salford, and final defeat to Carlisle.

So far this season it’s 105 yellows (4.038) and one red in 26 appointments, 11 of which have been in the Championship. The seven yellows and one red handed out at Bolton v Fleetwood in League One right back in August remains his biggest single haul. He hasn’t refereed Hull since 2020/21 when they were in League One – they lost two home games with him in charge that season, 2-1 to Peterborough and 1-0 to Ipswich. QPR are 1-0-1 from two games and Hull are 0-0-2.

Nield was promoted out of the National League and onto the EFL list for 2017/18 refereeing 29 games, almost exclusively in League Two, that season and showing a slim 65 yellows and two reds. His card average didn’t stray too far from that lenient 2.24 in 2018/19, with 68 yellows and three reds from 21 appointments, but shot up to 3.34 in 2019/20 with 97 yellows and three reds in 29 fixtures.

Nield is a senior nurse in the NHS and you can read about his role in fighting Covid-19 in West Yorkshire on the Sky website.

The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords

Ian Randall Photography

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