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Rewind to 1995 and Scottish referee Dougie Smith suffered a sense of humour bypass of epic proportions when booking Paul Gascoigne after the then Rangers midfielder flashed him a yellow card when he dropped his notebook and pen. Despite being on the end of a 7-0 reverse that day even the Hibernian players and supporters inside Ibrox seemed amused, but Smith was having none of it as he snatched his card back and quickly brandished it in the direction of Gazza. When Hibs midfielder Joe Tortolano pleaded for leniency he was met with the curt response: "He might be able to take the f****** p*** out of you, but he's not taking the f****** p*** out of me." Mark Clattenburg showed considerably more good grace when Gary McSheffrey did likewise when Birmingham played Fulham in 2007.
Peter Walton was left red faced on Wednesday night when he forgot to put his cards in his pocket and needed to book Birmingham midfielder Jordon Mutch. The genius of this particular gaffe is when Walton realises his mistake and yet still grips his hand as if holding something when pulling thin air out of his pocket. With a poker face that would leave Amarillo Slim second guessing what the score was, Walton proceeded to show an imaginary yellow card to a bemused Mutch. Maybe nobody noticed.
The best goal in the history of football was arguably scored by a Brazilian ball boy. When a Santacruzense striker hooked wide with just a minute to go it looked as though they heading out of the cup, trailing as they were 1-0 to Atletico Sorocaba at the time. Neither side had banked on a mischievous ball boy though, who when the referee and players turned their back in anticipation of the subsequent goal-kick he nonchalantly collected the ball from behind the goal and proceeded to knock it past Atletico's goalkeeper into the net. Inexplicably, in what must be the most staggering call of all time, the referee and her lineswoman let it stand. Hardly surprisingly both were given a lengthy suspension after the game.
Referees have long-since had to contend with the threat of violence from irate supporters but few would fear the wrath of a disgruntled toddler. Things are different in America though and in 2008 high school official Kenneth Lee Brooks suffered concussion and a damaged spinal cord disc after a two-year-old child took control of a golf cart and proceeded to emerge from the end zone to run him over. Brooks has filed a lawsuit against the child's mother and the Springfield School District. The mother, Brenda Newell, had this to say: "He was just gone for like, two seconds. I turned to my friend and said, 'I've lost Luke.' I turned to my right and looked (out) over the long jump pit to see him go by on the golf cart."
To the delight of his detractors referee Graham Poll endured the proverbial 'mare at the 2006 World Cup game between Australia and Croatia. Having already dismissed two other players in what was an ill-tempered game, Poll failed to send-off Josip Simunic for a second yellow card late in the match, eventually dismissing him for a third yellow for dissent at the final whistle. Fifa were not amused as Poll was named as one of the 14 referees to be sent home after the first round of matches. He subsequently asked not to be nominated to represent the FA at any future tournament finals.
Made infamous by appearing in the opening title sequence to Malcolm in the Middle, the clip of Cuban boxer Pedro Cardenas accidentally knocking out referee Bert Lowes instead of his opponent Willie DeWitt is sporting gold. Las Vegas was the destination for the 1982 North American Championship bout but few would have bet on Cardenas doing the exact same as he did to Lowes to his replacement. A jackhammer of a right that caught Lowes full on the kisser had him tasting mat, before a glancing left had an unsuspecting replacement badly shaken.
The biggest cheer heard inside St James' Park in 1993 greeted not an Alan Shearer rip-snorter but the sight of Robbie Savage being pole-axed after referee Matt Messias swung out his arm to crack the Welshman full in the mush as he ran behind him. The best part of a six second clip that can still be found on YouTube is the reaction of Shearer, who seems genuinely giddy with excitement with what has just occurred. Messias, probably equally pleased, could even raise a smile when Newcastle's no.9 pulled a red card out of the official's top pocket to dismiss him.
More than a few Liverpool fans retain doubts over whether Alberto Aquilani will ever be able to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League so it's unlikely Anfield regulars will be surprised to learn he recently came out second best in a 50-50 with a referee. Juventus' game against Sampdoria earlier in the year was brought to a standstill after the rangy midfielder collided with the referee's hard but fair shoulder to shoulder challenge. Aquilani looked shaken as he clutched his face but was able to continue after learning the perpetrator of his injury was unlikely to dish out suitable punishment.
Sheffield Wednesday forward Di Canio reacted angrily to being sent off during a home match against Arsenal in 1998 and shoved referee Paul Alcock to the ground. The Football Association responded by banning the Italian for 11 matches, three for the red card and eight for his reaction, and fining him £10,000. Disgraceful. And hugely amusing at the same time. Alcock's comedy fall was worthy of a Bafta, as was the reaction of a gobby Nigel Winterburn when a mental-eyed Di Canio looked as though he was about to lunge at him too.
Slovakian ice hockey player Martin Mraz took violence against match officials to a whole new level when he incurred an 18-month ban for attacking an umpire with his stick. When a melee ensued in what was a non-descript league game Mraz was involved in more than his fair share of pushing and shoving but few would have predicted that once he got a free swing at his target he would proceed to batter him with his club of choice before releasing a flurry of punches.
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