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Ref Watch ......... Walsall (A)


Life President
Oct 28, 2003
There can be few, if any, teams we've played as often as Walsall and have a better record against. We have won 42 and drawn 17 of our 81 League matches against them leaving them with 22 victories the most recent of which was last year's home game when the now departed Oztumer plundered a second half hat-trick in an easy 3-0 win. We matched that this season in Hopper’s last match. At the time he went off he had scored 7 League goals from 14 appearances – how we’ve missed his goals!

The man in charge is one of the younger referees on the Football League List, in his fourth season. The 32 year old Ross Joyce from Elston, just outside Middlesbrough, has progressed from the Teeside youth leagues remarkably quickly.

By profession, he is the Referees Development Officer for the North Riding FA. The number of League Officials who actually work for the various county FAs seems to have increased dramatically in recent years. Favourable treatment from assessors or job interviewers ? Possibly.

He has refereed Southend five times before. Firstly the 2-0 defeat at Bradford City 2015/16, when yellows were shown to O'Neill, Wordsworth and Timlin and one home player.

Then, rather more controversially, early 2016/17 for our hefty 4-0 defeat at Northampton when he sent off Demetriou for denying a less than obvious goal-scoring opportunity. The red card was subsequently rescinded. Also yellows for White and McLaughlin with none to the home players.

Next towards the end of that same season, on Good Friday, he oversaw the hefty 4-0 win at hapless Chesterfield. As you'd expect, no complaints there (other than from their manager) with a red card and three yellows to the home team and just a yellow to Atkinson for us.

Then came last season's defeat at Shrewsbury. Cautions for McLaughlin and Ferdinand and three of theirs.
Finally, the match at Bristol Rovers early this season when a solitary Hopper goal was enough to give us all 3 points. We got three yellows too – Oxley, Coker and Demetriou- to their two.

His card count is on the high side, as it has been over all three of his previous seasons as a Football League referee, with 145 yellows and 4 reds from 41 matches with 9 of his last 13 matches being away wins.
Just before the start of his League career, he refereed the Conference Play Off final at Wembley in front of a crowd of over 47,000.

Assisting will be Greg Read (as it was at that Bristol Rovers game) from Addlestone near Woking and Alix Pashley from Chesterfield. Fourth Official will be scouser Ben Speedie (no relation) making his Southend debut.