Officials for the League Two fixture between Bury and Yeovil Town have been published by the Football League. The match takes place at Gigg Lane on Saturday 4th August 2018, and is the opening fixture of the 2018-19 season. The man in charge of the fixture will be referee Dean Whitestone (Northamptonshire).
This is an official that we've had a huge number of times over the years, including twice during the 2017-18 season. He took charge of the September 2017 home match against Cheltenham Town which ended in a 0-0 draw. The Robins dominated this game, and we were probably indebted to Mr Whitestone, when he saw Sid Nelson's tug-back on Mohamed Eisa as a yellow card as the striker ran through on goal, rather than the colour that the visitors had been hoping for. Otherwise he had a fairly quiet game. Nelson was less fortunate in the November meeting against Notts County that ended in a 1-1 draw. The gane's major incident occurred in the 88th minute and saw him red-carded for what was claimed to be an off-the-ball elbow aimed at Ryan Yates. Most spectators didn't see it, and video footage didn't pick it up, but on the other hand Darren Way's ire seemed to be more aimed at Nelson than at the referee.
There were three meetings during the 2016-17 season. The first was a home match against Newport County in October 2016. This was Graham Westley's first game in charge of the Exiles, and what we got was a fairly typical physical approach from our opponents. Mr Whitestone adopted a stand-off approach, which sometimes frustrated the home crowd, but overall he kept a good lid on the game, with just one booking. A month later, he was present for the November 2016 match at Accrington Stanley that saw us draw 1-1. This was a booking-free game, and in terms of refereeing controversy, an incident-free game. He then turned up for a second Newport County match - the Easter holiday game at Rodney Parade. We thought he did quite well in that game - particularly when there had been a bit of a dust-up between players just before half time between two sets of players. There he decided to calm it down and issue a couple of yellows rather than try to take centre stage.
Prior to those three, he was there for the November 2015 fixture against Gillingham in the Football League Trophy. He had a quiet game on that evening, with just one booking, and the game ended up in a penalty shoot-out which we won. Other recent matches include the September 2014 League One match against Coventry City that saw the Sky Blues having just returned to the Ricoh Arena. There were also two games during the 2013-14 season. He was present for the opening day of the season when we travelled to Millwall. Although we won the game, some of his decision-making was messy, particularly in terms of who he chose to land on the book, but at least he didn't do anything too dramatic. He then turned up for the October 4-1 defeat against Middlesbrough where we were too busy grumbling about our ability to defend, than noticing what the referee was doing.
With so many of Mr Whitestone's past matches to wade through, it's worth just highlighting a few of the more prominent meetings we've had with him. During the February 2013 League One match against Scunthorpe United he actually did us a few favours (yes referees do sometimes do this!). His failure to penalise Byron Webster for his first half tackle on Akpo Sodje raised a few eyebrows - it could have been a red card for a professional foul, but he kindly waved play on, and Scunny manager Brian Laws got his marching orders for telling the referee what he thought of the decision at the half time break.
Then in the second half, Callum Kennedy's tackle on Sam Foley inside the box also went in our favour, as Mr Whitestone pointed to the penalty spot. Video replays suggested it was a fair tackle. Brian Laws livid after the match? Unsurprisingly, having had time to view the incidents on the DVD he wasn't too impressed. A rather honest Byron Webster admitted that Laws had a right to be annoyed in his post-match interview. So all in all, a 'good' performance from Mr Whitestone from our point of view, and a 'bad' one if you were an Iron fan.
He was responsible for one of the worst refereeing performances we saw during the 2010-11 season, when we had a November 2010 visit to The Valley that saw Charlton Athletic gain a 3-2 win. Two players got sent off, with Charlton's Christian Dailly and Yeovil's Paul Huntington not finishing the game. Dailly's challenge on Sam Williams didn't look like a red even for those of us wearing green'n'white. The later decision to send off Huntington looked like a referee doing his best to 'correct' his earlier error. Glovers boss Terry Skiverton said after the game that he felt the referee had got it wrong on both counts, and we'd tend to agree. Overall, Mr Whitestone made a pig's ear of the game, summed up by five further bookings across both sides, and not a single one of the yellows involving a foul.
In the August 2008 home match against Leeds United he gave us a penalty decision that was controversial even with green-tinted spectacles on, although it was about time that we had one. However, despite us being particularly grateful for any small gifts that might come our way, the rest of his performance wasn't too clever, clocking up eight bookings in the match, but subsequently bottling several opportunities to produce second yellow cards for a number of Leeds players. Whilst that left us displeased, Leeds were just as miffed, calling Whitestone 'embarrassing'. Probably the one criticism that both camps would agree on was that Whitestone failed to be firm in his early decisions, and thus created a rod for his own back.
We then had the dubious pleasure of Mr Whitestone back on New Year's Day 2008 when he took part in the 1-0 defeat at Kenilworth Road. Whilst the 1-0 scoreline flattered the Glovers, who were outplayed from start to finish by a Luton side about to be broken up after going into administration, the performance of Whitestone left a nasty taste in the mouth. Card-happy and inclined to be influenced heavily by what the crowd told him to do, he red-carded Paul Warne late on in the game for a trivial second bookable offence when far worse tackles from the home side had gone unpunished. There are few occasions when we'd suggest that a referee wasn't neutral, but it's hard to describe him any other way when he's got that badly sucked into home crowd pressure.
Mr Whitestone will be assisted by Matthew Parry (Merseyside) and Paul Newhouse (County Durham). The Fourth Official will be Mark Cunliffe (Merseyside).
Link: November 2017 : Yeovil Town 1 Notts County 1.
Link: September 2017 : Yeovil Town 0 Cheltenham Town 0.
Link: April 2017 : Newport County 1 Yeovil Town 0.
Link: November 2016 : Accrington Stanley 1 Yeovil Town 1.
Link: October 2016 : Yeovil Town 1 Newport County 0.
Link: November 2015 : Gillingham 1 Yeovil Town 1 (Yeovil won 5-4 on penalties).
Link: September 2014 : Coventry City 2 Yeovil Town 1.
Link: October 2013 : Middlesbrough 4 Yeovil Town 1.
Link: August 2013 : Millwall 0 Yeovil Town 1.
Link: April 2013 : Bury 3 Yeovil Town 2.
Link: February 2013 : Yeovil Town 3 Scunthorpe United 0.
Link: October 2011 : Yeovil Town 0 Huddersfield Town 1.
Link: November 2010 : Charlton Athletic 3 Yeovil Town 2.
Link: January 2009 : Yeovil Town 1 Scunthorpe United 2.
Link: August 2008 : Yeovil Town 1 Leeds United 1.
Link: January 2008 : Luton Town 1 Yeovil Town 0.
Link:September 2007 : Yeovil Town 0 Leyton Orient 1.
Link: September 2006 : Yeovil Town 2 Crewe Alexandra 0.
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