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JEFF THE REF REMINISCES ABOUT MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United certainly featured heavily throughout my career. The first time I reffed them though was at Ayresome Park in Clayton Blackmore's Testimonial, a game that was part of the deal that brought the Welshman to the Boro. A typical low key game was brought to life with a typical 'naughty' tackle from Mark Hughes.

Next time started my Love/Hate relationship with Sir Alex. He was far from happy after United crashed out of the League Cup at York City. 3-0 down from the first leg they won 3-1 at Bootham Crescent, going out on aggregate. Messrs Beckham and Schmeichel saw yellow that night. Then they won 3-0 at Reading in the FA Cup so back in Fergie's good books.

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Next up an infamous 6-3 hiding at The Dell against Southampton where Roy Keane saw red. Some say that the big clubs influence too much power, who knows, but it was twenty-six months before I reffed them again. A 3-0 Boxing victory at OT saw Fergie compliment me at full-time, but a few weeks later, despite a 1-0 FA Cup victory over Fulham, he hit me with: "Back to your usual self Jeff, fucking useless!"

United featured in one of the greatest ever PL comebacks. I reffed them at White Hart Lane against Spurs three times, but by far the best was when they turned a 3-0 half-time deficit into a 5-3 victory. I was in the middle when Arsenal won 2-0 at OT, the game remembered for the post-match incident where allegedly David Beckham was hit in the face by a flying boot as Fergie showed his displeasure at the result.

An FA Cup game at OT saw United win 4-2 against Manchester City but United had Gary Neville sent off after an altercation with Steve McManaman.

My final season saw me involved in an incident at St James' Park when as fourth official I requested that Ref Uriah Rennie sent Fergie to the stand after a touchline bust up. The aftermath of that incident filled a chapter of my autobiography as Fergie unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the subsequent FA charge.

My final dealings with the club, and indeed their manager, came in May 2004 in my final game at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. It was all smiles at the end as United won 3-0 easily against Millwall. He smiled as he shook my hand. I'm not totally sure if it was just the victory that pleased him or his knowledge that he'd never have me referee them again.




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