Monday was always the day of the week when Premier League referees were notified of their next appointments, so you can imagine how excited I was when appointed to the London ‘derby’ at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, way back on 26th October,1996. Immediately my attention turned to the game, planning how I would travel, hotel accommodation on the Friday evening, travel from hotel to ground, as it was a lunchtime kick off, possible team selection, recent results, my mind was in a whirl at such a prestigious game. I loved ‘derbies’ having refereed many in my career and irrespective of League position there was always the bragging rights for the winning team fans. One thing was certain, nothing would be left on the pitch by either team, so I needed to be at my best.
My week continued as normal with a Tuesday evening training session, putting in some extra sprints as I thought the game would be an ‘end to end’ affair. Both teams were playing in the League Cup that week, so it gave both Managers an opportunity to rest some key players ready for the weekend. Perhaps I could learn something from the match reports the next day, every little bit of information helps.
Roger Dilkes, from Mossley, Lancashire is an English former football referee who officiated in the Football League and Premier League.