Lee Mason, is an English football referee, originating from Bolton, Lancashire. He is Chairman of the Bolton Referees Society, whilst his younger brother Andy is an ex-professional footballer and was on the books at Bolton Wanderers.
Mason took up the whistle for the first time in 1988, and has slowly progressed through the ranks, refereeing at local, county and then national level, before finally reaching the Premier League list of Select Group referees in 2006.
In an interview with Refworld.com, Mason states that his proudest moment as a referee came when he received a contract to referee fulltime. In the same interview, Mason was asked:
Refworld.com: What skills do you think you need to become a professional referee?
Mason: “The most important skills you require as a professional referee are your man management ones and also to have supreme awareness of everything that is going on around you on the field.”
Now it’s funny that Lee should mention a ‘supreme awareness’, as previously, Mason has been accused of possessing a supreme lack of awareness. In a recent Premier League encounter between Portsmouth and Chelsea, Pompey midfielder Richard Hughes hit out at the “useless” Lee Mason, after the referee missed: an alleged Florent Malouda elbow on Ricardo Rocha that left the Portuguese with a fractured cheekbone, a flailing arm from Daniel Sturridge that left Tommy Smith with a broken nose, and a foul on Jamie O’Hara in the build-up to Chelsea’s opening goal. Hughes concluded:
“If you are not going to get sent off for fracturing a cheekbone with an elbow, you might as well scrap the rule of red cards for an elbow.
“Major decisions went against us, but even without that I thought he (Mason) was useless all night.”
Perhaps Mason was trying to even things up at Fratton Park after giving what Rafael Benítez sarcastically deemed a ‘perfect’ performance in the game between Portsmouth and Liverpool in December 2009. Benítez was furious with Mason after the man in the middle sent Javier Mascherano off – a decision Benitez felt changed the game.
Benítez told the Guardian in his post match press conference:
“I have seen the replay and for me it is not a sending-off, but anyway the referee was perfect. He didn’t make any mistakes. Now Javier is injured, and I will say again the referee didn’t make any mistake.”
Mason has actually sent three Liverpool players off this season. Aside from the aforementioned Javier Mascherano, Mason gave Jamie Carragher and Philipp Degen their marching orders in the game between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage in November 2009. Mason was dropped the week after, with Degen’s challenge in particular seen as a booking at the worst. Carragher’s body check on Bobby Zamora was also deemed debatable.
Mason is by no means the most high profile or hated referee in the Premier League, but there is little doubt that for Portsmouth and Liverpool, the only thing they are ‘supremely aware’ of, is their dislike of a certain referee called Mr. Lee Mason.
Know your enemy!
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