Date:Thursday April 26 2012
The man in charge of the npower Championship match between Derby County and Peterborough United is ROGER EAST.
The Wiltshire-based official takes charge of his 43rd match of the season, during which he has shown a total of 117 yellow cards and six red cards.
The last Posh game he officiated was last season when Posh travelled to Swindon three days after Christmas and came away with a 1-1 draw. Two yellow cards were issued; one to each side.
The Rams last had East in charge of one of their games in January this year when they beat Coventry 1-0. Two yellow cards were issued during the game with both cards going to City players.
Starting life running the line, East has certainly had plenty of experiences. Just five years ago, he was part of the three man refereeing team that went out to Libya, at the request of the home FA, to take charge of the bitter Tripoli derby between Al Ittihad and Al Ahly. No Libyan officials could be appointed, for fear of subsequent reprisals, for such a key Premier League fixture in the North African country. Dave Bryan was the other assistant referee with Mark Halsey officiating the match.
Speaking to the www.football-league.co.uk, East said: 'We touched down at the airport, had our bags and passports taken immediately, were surrounded by bodyguards and were treated like kings. We were taken straight through but all these buzzers suddenly went off. I didn't have a gun on me but I was worried for a bit!
'The game, a 1-1 draw, went fine but an equaliser in the final minutes did cause a few concerns. The scorer was a goalkeeper, would you believe, with a header and he then set off crazily around the surrounding running track. Flares went off everywhere and I indicated to Mark [the referee] that it might not be a good idea to book him. It could have caused a riot.
'We spoke with the police afterwards and they said that a draw was a good result for them. A victory for either side would have led to cars being turned upside down outside the stadium or possibly worse. OK, stuff was chucked at us during the game, a few little bricks, but it never felt seriously threatening.
'During our three-day trip, the Libyans were really pleasant. You had all these pre-conceived ideas that they might be a bit aggressive towards us but it couldn't have been further from that. Muhammad Gaddafi, the eldest son of the former Libyan leader, shook our hands before we left and said thank you on behalf of the people for what we had done. It was a nice gesture.'
That match wasn`t his only "big" game as an assistant referee. He was assistant in the 2004 FA Cup Final, when Manchester United beat Millwall 3-0, and in the 2006 FA Community Shield, when Liverpool narrowly beat Chelsea 2-1, both of which were played at the Millennium Stadium.
'Many might have rated the Cup Final as one of the worst ever, especially the Millwall fans,' East said. 'But we, the officials, were part of it and were proud to be part of it. No one can ever take that away from you. It was a great honour and a great occasion.'
East has now become the man in the middle. 'There is nothing like it,' he said. 'I really enjoyed lining but I wouldn't swap the whistle for anything.'
Away from football, East is a sales director in a Wiltshire sawmill. He has served 30 years at the 120-year-old family timber firm where his grandfather, Ernest, did 65 years and his father, John, 55 years. 'I left school and started sweeping the floors the next day,' Roger said. 'I had seven or eight years of hard labour and then went into sales.'
East is lucky to have a loving and supportive wife behind him. 'Behind every good referee is a good wife,' East said. 'She's been so supportive, especially during those years when I was officiating abroad, and I could never have done it without her.'
Derby County v Peterborough United
Location: Pride Park
Date: 28th April, 2012
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