'Newcastle fans have always given me stick': Ex-Premier League referee opens up on 'horror' Magpies incident

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey has astonishingly claimed an incident involving Newcastle United was the biggest mistake of his career.

Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 7:27 pm
(PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
(PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The Magpies need no reminding of the incident in March 2013 when Wigan Athletic’s Callum McManaman walked free following a horror tackle on Massaido Haidara.

Haidara, who had only just joined Newcastle from Nancy a few months prior, was stretchered off minutes after replacing Mathieu Debuchy.

It was a tackle that caused absolute outrage at the DW Stadium.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

John Carver, assistant to manager Alan Pardew at the time, was sent off when the half-time whistle was blown after trying to confront the Latics winger.

Halsey, speaking to The Sun, was open and honest about his error that day, admitting it made him consider retirement, three years after bravely battling back from cancer.

The 58-year-old revealed: “Missing Callum McManaman’s career-threatening challenge was the biggest mistake of my refereeing career.

“The tackle happened in the 22nd-minute and by half-time the Newcastle bench had seen it again so it all kicked off before I reached the tunnel.

“It still hurts me. I made mistakes in my career but none as massive as this one. In fact, my error was so bad, it made me consider retiring.”

It was blatantly clear as Halsey is making out - so how did he miss it?

“As I returned to my dressing room (at half-time), Newcastle boss Alan Pardew stood behind the tunnel door and delivered a volley of abuse,” he added.

“I only knew I’d missed a horrendous tackle when Sky’s floor manager told me. I sat down in my dressing room and thought: ‘For **** sake’.

“Newcastle fans have always given me stick since but I only missed McManaman’s wild tackle because Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa blocked my view.

“I was given a DVD of the match by Sky so I fast-forwarded the tape and watched the tackle straight away. I looked at it and thought: ‘Oh my god, how have I missed that?’.

“My stomach turned and I couldn’t even eat that night. I felt sick.

“I class myself as a top referee and had I seen it, as I put in my report, I would have sent off McManaman for serious foul play.”

In the aftermath of the incident, Halsey was disciplined by the Professional Match Officials Limited and dropped from the Premier League for five weeks.

But as well as recalling why McManaman did not face retrospective, Halsey also revealed how Pardew contacted him directly after the game.

He said: “I got a call from Pardew. He realised after watching the incident again it was impossible for me to see.

“But the FA said no action could be taken as one of the assistants was looking in the same direction of the challenge.”

To add salt to the wounds, Newcastle lost the game 2-1 with Arouna Kone scoring a last-minute winner to cancel out Davide Santon’s equaliser.