As we approach pre-season of the upcoming 2022-23 campaign, let’s cast our minds back to one of the funniest moments from last summer involving referee Kevin Friend.
Friend, 50, took charge of the pre-season fixture between Aston Villa and Bristol City.
And the match official ended up going viral on social media after showing a yellow card to Aston Villa’s fans.
Goals from Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Ezri Konsa and Ollie Watkins earned Villa a 3-0 victory away at Ashton Gate.
But it was Friend who stole the show after Villa fans chanted “You’re just a s**t Mike Dean!” at the Premier League ref while Ashley Young prepared to take a free-kick.
Friend put his hands up and shrugged as if to say ‘what’s that for?!’
Spurred on by his reaction, Villa fans chanted at the experienced ref: “Kevin, give us a wave! Kevin, Kevin, give us a wave!”
Friend responded perfectly to the Villa supporters’ cheeky chants, pointing before showing them a deserved yellow card.
Nobody wants to be called a s**t Mike Dean.
Watch the brilliant video here:
Kevin Friend giving a yellow card to the crowd for singing ‘You’re just a s*?! Mike Dean’ 😂 pic.twitter.com/2hsp2QIVQu— REFSIX (@refsix) August 1, 2021
And the clip also went down with many football fans on social media, who thought it was refreshing to see a referee showing some personality.
Mike Dean retired and won’t be part of 2022-23 Premier League
On a related note, the 2022-23 campaign will be the first season since the 1990s that the aforementioned Mike Dean won’t be refereeing in the Premier League. Sad times.
The showman-like referee, whose theatrics entertained us all on a weekly basis, brought the curtain down on his 22-year spell as a Premier League ref at the end of last season.
“He’s not a guy who chases the big time,” another ex-ref, Peter Walton, commented, “the big time comes to Mike Dean.”
There’s been speculation that Dean will move into a VAR role but the man himself said in May, per the Daily Mail: “Contrary to reports and speculation, I have been offered no VAR role at all, that is just word of mouth I think.
“It could be there if I wanted to go for it, but I don’t know yet. I need to keep my options open and see what is available.
“I will miss the banter with the lads, the referees. We give up quite a lot as guys back home, we don’t really have an outside life because we are away every weekend and here (at the PGMOL base) every two weeks.
“So I will miss the banter with the lads, the guys I work with week in and week out.”
Now that Dean is unfortunately no longer with us, perhaps it’s Friend’s time to cement his status as the Premier League’s most entertaining ref.
QUIZ: Can you name all of these 1990s Serie A icons?
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