Flashback: Stuart Attwell awards Reading a ‘ghost goal’ – possibly the worse refereeing decision of all time

Whilst Mike Dean will be desperate to keep a low profile ahead of this week’s Premier League fixtures in the wake of Costa-gate, in reality he can thank his lucky stars his refereeing ineptitude doesn’t even compare to that of Stuart Attwell’s during a Championship fixture in 2008.

Attwell would later become the youngest referee to officiate a Premier League game at 25, quite astounding when you consider 13 minutes into the Vicarage Road fixture, the young official awarded a goal to Reading, with much help from his ill-informed official, when the ball hadn’t even got close to the goal line.

In the below footage, Reading’s Stephen Hunt can be seen curling in a testing cross which hits Watford’s former Coventry midfielder John Eustace on the thigh. The other Hunt brother, Stephen, quickly gathers the loose ball only to find his attempts at keeping the attack active futile as the ball bobbles out of play.

Just as Attwell proceeds to point for a goal kick, the official can then be seen chatting with his assistant Nigel Bannister. Unbeknownst to the 22 on field players and the 14,761 spectators, Bannister was communicating that somewhere in the mix up, he believed the ball had in fact crossed the line.

Atwell, trusted the information provided from his second in command and awarded it as a John Eustace own goal.

“Everyone could see what happened,” said Eustace, “It’s a bit embarrassing. We thought he’d given a goal-kick and then it was a goal. It’s ridiculous. Everyone was amazed by the decision.”

Here’s the ugly evidence….

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