For the first time since 2016, Northamptonshire-based referee Andy Woolmer will be taking charge of a Royals fixture when we visit Derby County on Saturday afternoon.
Likewise, he hasn’t overseen a Derby fixture in almost as long; neither the Royals or Rams have had a game under his stewardship since the tail-end of 2016.
Our last away game which Mr Woolmer took charge of looked like it was petering out to a goalless draw, until Yann Kermorgant fired in an 89th minute winner to give us victory on the road in Cardiff. But a couple of months later, he took charge of a match at Madejski Stadium and awarded Aston Villa a stoppage-time penalty for Liam Moore’s trip on Jordan Ayew, allowing the Villa sub to tuck in a winning spot-kick.
He is something of a veteran in refereeing circles; his first Reading fixture was back in 2005, when Ivar Ingimarsson’s sole goal earned us a 1-0 win in the Championship against Crewe en route to our record points total. Woolmer’s next Royals match wasn’t for another three years, but that ended up being 6-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, inspired by a Kevin Doyle hat-trick.
Woolmer’s most recent Derby game was a see-saw affair away at Fulham, where Reading Academy graduate Alex Pearce notched the point-earning goal in a 2-2 draw.
In his 16 games this season, he has distributed 55 yellow cards and brandished the red on three occasions.
Assistant referees for the fixture will be Adrian Waters and Timothy Wood, while fourth official will be Anthony Backhouse.