Officials for the League Two match between Crewe Alexandra and Yeovil Town have been published by the Football League. The match takes place on Friday 19th April, with a 3.00p.m. kick-off at Gresty Road. The man in charge of the fixture will be referee Eddie Ilderton (Tyne and Wear).
The first occasion we had him was at Moss Rose for a game against Macclesfield Town in 2003 and it didn't take long to spot he was one of the poorest officials on the circuit around that time. Unfortunately Yeovil Town were even poorer that day, although we weren't helped by him denying Adam Lockwood a clear penalty - Locky was stamped on which provoked a melee, but he ended up booking the Glovers defender for it, and an entirely random Macclesfield player who wasn't even the one who kicked (literally) the whole thing off.
Later that season, we had him again, for an away match against Boston United. His performance at York Street on a Bank Holiday Monday 2004, won't be forgotten in a hurry by the 400 Glovers fans there: shambolic is too kind a word. The Glovers bench got into a steaming row with him when he forced an injured Darren Way to leave the field of play, but for reasons only known to himself wouldn't let us make the substitution - Way's absence allowed the very man he had been marking the chance to score unmarked 15 seconds later. Ilderton should have claimed an assist. He was also involved in Boston's second goal, gifting them a free kick after Paul Terry's ball-winning tackle, with future Glover David Noble netting from it.
Ilderton then chalked off a successful Gavin Williams penalty, claiming that he'd not blown his whistle for it to be taken despite there being no reason for him to need play to be delayed in any way - Gavin's second attempt was saved. His final contribution to a stinker of a game was to allow Boston's winning goal to stand, even though in fairness his linesman should have been able to give it - a ball over the top that looked an obvious offside saw both linesman and referee leave the decision to each other, giving Boston a 90th minute winner, and Mr Ilderton and his merry men a hand in all three of the home side's goals. Unsurprisingly after one of the worst refereeing performances we've witnessed, Gary Johnson wasn't too impressed, saying of Way's injury for the opening goal:
"That has to be the worst decision that a referee has ever made. The reason why is because he told Darren Way to get up. Darren Way was injured and he told him to get up and get off. If Darren Way stays down and has his treatment then we can make our substitution anyway. Nick was ready anyway. But he told him to get up and get off and then wouldn't allow us to bring Nick Crittenden on. Obviously the goal came during that 30 seconds. We thought that was really poor and we also thought that the handling of the penalty was really poor. Gavin waited for ages to take that penalty and when he put it in, the referee said that he didn't blow his whistle, and then he changed his mind later and told them that one of them was encroaching."
Thankfully, the other matches he's dealt with at Football League level have been a great deal more anonymous. He was back at Moss Rose in 2005, although without a repeat of the issues we'd had with him on his first visit there. Then in February 2007, he took charge of our 4-1 win over Carlisle United - we had a few grumbles about his performance that day, but nothing on the scale of his Boston horror show.
Of the more recent meetings, one came during February 2013. We were critical of his observational skills on the day, in a 1-1 draw against Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium. He seemed to miss a large number of incidents during the match - James Hayter had a penalty appeal turned down during the second half. Having made the decision not to award a spot kick you'd think Mr Ilderton would be conscious of the Glovers striker lying prone on the deck, but he let play go on, and on, and on, with only Doncaster's good sportsmanship ensuring that Hayter got treatment and was able to be helped off the pitch. Late on, we were grateful that Mr Ilderton seemed to be watching another game - a rather dubious challenge by Marek Stech on Donny subsitute David Syers got ignored again - just as well given that it was inside the box.
Back in March 2015, again we were left grumbling about Mr Ilderton's observational skills. Although he did award us one penalty during that game - after a poor backpass saw James Hayter intercept the ball, and then be brought down by Rochdale keeper (and former Glovers trialist) Jamie Jones, we felt the keeper should have walked for the foul - instead he got a yellow. Still on the pitch, the keeper saved the spot kick, but when Gozie Ugwu was brought down inside the box later in that half we should have had a second spot kick. This one wasn't given at all.
We had Mr Ilderton twice during the 2016-17 season. In February 2017 he was at Meadow Lane for our League Two match against Notts County. This was a real stinker of a game. One of those matches that was going to end 0-0 even if both sides played until midnight. As we recall, the match officials didn't have a huge impact on the game, but minor things tended to contribute to the stuttering nature of the match. We groaned at him, but also groaned at the way both sides were playing the match. For the April 2017 match at Blundell Park against Grimsby Town, we were more groaning at our side's defending in the 4-2 defeat, although there was one semi-comical moment when he succeeded in breaking up a Yeovil Town attack as he accidentally blocked off a Ben Whitfield through ball. He gave Grimsby a penalty, for a foul by Jonny Maddison, but not one we could argue with on this occasion.
We also had him twice during the 2017-18 season. The first was the April 2018 fixture against Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena. There we won the match by a 6-2 scoreline, so even if the referee had an absolute nightmare we wouldn't be complaining about it! As it happens, he only booked one player, and we can't recall any Sky Blues fans or players complaining, except for the standard of their defending. He was also fairly unnoticeable during the May 2018 trip to Sincil Bank that saw us draw 1-1 with Lincoln City. One booking for each side, and nothing controversial that reached our match report or any of the associated coverage.
Mr Ilderton will be assisted by Anthony Moore (Manchester) and Thomas Harty (West Midlands). The Fourth Official will be Ian Smedley (Derbyshire).
Link: August 2003 : Macclesfield Town 4 Yeovil Town 1.
Link: April 2004 : Boston United 3 Yeovil Town 2.
Link: February 2005 : Macclesfield Town 3 Yeovil Town 1.
Link: February 2007 : Carlisle United 1 Yeovil Town 4.
Link: February 2013 : Doncaster Rovers 1 Yeovil Town 1.
Link: March 2015 : Rochdale 2 Yeovil Town 1.
Link: February 2017 : Notts County 0 Yeovil Town 0.
Link: April 2017 : Grimsby Town 4 Yeovil Town 2.
Link: April 2018 : Coventry City 2 Yeovil Town 6.
Link: May 2018 : Lincoln City 1 Yeovil Town 1.
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