Who’d be a referee? Take the unpopularity of Piers Morgan, Heather Mills and Catholic Priests and multiply them by any corrupt 20th Century fascist dictator and you’d still have a combined hatred sum numerically inferior to that of a referee who’s just got a penalty decision wrong.
It’s an unforgiving profession. We at the Tavern are therefore going to give you a brief insight into the personal life of another one of these perverse decision-makers who dutifully don black on the weekends and blow a whistle and brandish coloured cards at complete strangers in front of millions of jovial, irksome and sometimes perplexed on-lookers.
You’ll probably remember Keith Stroud best as the guy who booked Dean Windass for obstructing Rory Delap’s lengthy throw-in routine last season. How much Windass’ bulky frame could’ve helped its intrusion is questionable; the striker had no other choice but to warm up in the same postcode. Stroud first picked up his cards and whistle in 1988 and gradually moved up the refereeing ladder from the humble background of the Wessex League.
After being appointed as one of the assistants to Graham Barber at the 2003 FA Cup final – a particular proud moment for the 40-year-old, Stroud was added to the National List of referees in 2004. Notably, he also handled a League One play-off semi-final first leg in 2006. His first match in the Premier League came in a 2-0 Manchester City win at the Riverside in 2007.
Luckily, although Stroud accompanied Graham Poll to an international between Greece and Bulgaria, it seems no bad blood transfused and Stroud appears to remain a respectable official. Only time will tell whether the disturbing flashbacks of sharing a room with Poll will ease.
Stroud has, however, fallen from regular appearances in England’s top division following a rather ugly performance in a Fulham vs Middlesbrough match in 2008 and has been a regular in the Championship and League One this season, ending his year with a delightful trip to Millwall. These referees get to go to all the glamorous picturesque bastions of football don’t they?