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JEFF THE REF REMINISCES ABOUT SUNDERLAND

To say that I was a regular visitor to Roker Park is an understatement; at all levels I officiated there over thirty times.

Amongst these was the honour of being asked to referee Dicky Ord's testimonial against Steaua Bucharest, a far from friendly encounter due to the antics of the Romanians.

I recall inviting Steve Agnew to have a 'free-one' on their most annoying midfielder and he duly obliged before quickly being substituted.

My biggest game there without doubt was the last ever Wear-Tyne derby at the ground which Sunderland lost 2-1 in a strange atmosphere where no visiting supporters were officially present.

My final game at Roker was on New Year's Eve. They won 2-0 against Derby County and post-match I was invited for a festive drink in Peter Reid's office. Over the years we shared a love/hate relationship but this was a good day and fortunately I wasn't driving.

Another honour was bestowed on me when I was asked to Ref the first ever game at The Stadium Of Light against Ajax and a bit like the first game at The Riverside, everything wasn't quite ready on match day.

I got stuck in a lift pre-match for fifteen minutes then disallowed an early goal for The Mackems. I don't think that Kevin Ball has ever forgiven me for denying him the tag of first ever scorer at The Stadium.

A 2-2 draw against Manchester United saw Reidy and I fall out as he wasn't happy with a late United equaliser. A 1-0 victory against Chelsea was marred by two red cards as Kevin Kilbane and the visitors' Graeme Le Saux exchanged pleasantries right in front of then Assistant Referee Martin Atkinson.

My final game saw Sunderland lose 2-0 at home to Bolton Wanderers. I never reffed Sunderland away from Wearside, but they were and still are one of the most hospitable clubs to visit.

After retirement the club presented me with an engraved replica miners lamp to mark my many visits to the club. Let's hope Boro aren't as hospitable tonight.




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