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Life President
Oct 28, 2003
We visit a ground we haven't won at for over 20 years to face a team that has scored 10 goals in their last 3 League matches, and us with a patched up defence. What could go wrong ?

Anyway the man in charge of Saturday's match needs little introduction; he is Gavin Ward from Oxted in Surrey, whose many Southend games over the years can best be described as variable with a little more bad than good.

We had him twice last season, once very early, once very late ...... so late in fact it was the final match when we didn't quite make the play-offs. The 1-0 win against Bury was in vain and I felt it was a bit of a "homer" performance from him. Two yellows for us (Amos and Robinson) and 4 for them. The early season Southend match was back in August for the 1-1 home draw with Bristol Rovers when he showed yellows to McLaughlin, Cox and King (no, I don't remember him doing anything to warrant a booking or indeed anything at all) and two of theirs.

Prior to that we were spared him for a year and a half with his previous Southend match being the home goalless stalemate with Dagenham at the end of 2014. A red card for Bolger and 3 yellows to the visitors and he didn't excel. This was preceded by the defeat against Walsall in the League Cup, same season, when he wasn't really very good either, failing to dismiss an opposing player for a blatant DOGSO and displaying a lot of inconsistency and randomness in his 6 cautions (Prosser, Atkinson & Coker for our three).

Before that his four most recent Southend matches were definitely some of his better ones, taking charge of the entertaining home 0-0 with Port Vale early 2012/13 with 1 caution to us (Tomlin) and 2 to them. Later that same season he refereed a home win against Oxford. This time three cautions (Clohessy, Timlin and Corr) for us and one for them. Then more recently when we crashed out of the JPT in 2013/14 at home to Dagenham (3 yellows for us, 2 and a red for them) followed by later the same year, the 3-2 home defeat by Exeter in the match featuring Jason Williams' turn of speed and sleight of hand. Just one yellow for Freddie.

Before those, his last match, or should I say half a match, was the ill-fated fixture at Aldershot on Boxing Day 2011/12, when, in the eyes of some, he became a good referee because his bad decisions favoured us for once.

The previous one was the home game against Shrewsbury (3-0), also 2011/12, which was his first return to Roots Hall for a League game since he mishandled the match against Gillingham over six years ago. He had returned since for a JPT match, against the same opposition 2010/11, and that went much better; generally JPT games are lower key.

The Shrewsbury game was undoubtedly another one of his better ones with a couple of penalties going our way and just three yellows shaded by the Shrews.

This is his eleventh season as a League referee. He has refereed 15 of our home matches. His first three games went pretty much okay. They were the JPT defeat on pens by Dagenham, the 2-1 win against Hartlepool (who had Sam Collins sent off in that match) and, eight seasons ago, the 2-1 home win against Swindon.

The fourth one was also six seasons ago against Bristol Rovers when he declined to send off the opposing goalkeeper for a handball outside the area. Notwithstanding that decision, it wasn't the best of performances from Mr Ward.

The fifth home match was the one referred to earlier, the Gillingham home game 2009/10 with an astonishingly inept display producing 9 yellow cards.

Since then he also took charge of our away win at Leyton Orient in the same year, booking Scannell and acouple of theirs.

He was an absolutely first class linesman/assistant referee. Lined in numerous Premiership matches and some full internationals. He had been looking to replicate that success in the middle and therefore will probably be disappointed that he has been deservedly overtaken in the pecking order by several younger officials (even if they don't look younger). His card count is a little on the high side with 150 yellows and 6 reds from 41 matches last season. The majority of his appointments were League Two last season, a good indication he's going no further up the refereeing ladder. Some referees actually improve when they get to that stage no longer feeling the need to get noticed!

His start to this season has brought 19 yellows and no reds from 6 matches, including last week's televised match at Portsmouth which went pretty well for him (and Rotherham!)

Assistants are fussy non-league referee Stuart Butler from Maidstone and Andrew Laver from Portsmouth. Fourth Official is Ryan T Atkin from London who recently attracted a lot of publicity for declaring himself the first openly gay match official on the Football League List.