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Robert Matthewson (13 April 1930 – 10 November 2000)[1][2] was an English footballer and FIFA referee. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne,[2] Matthewson had a spell playing for the Byker Youth Club's football team before he was signed by Bolton Wanderers.[3] After six appearances for Bolton in six seasons,[2] including three appearances in the Football League,[3] Matthewson was allowed to leave the club on a free transfer by manager Bill Ridding.[2][2][3] He then joined Lincoln City but never played a league game for them. He then entered National Service. Upon his return an engineering colleague persuaded him to take up refereeing back in Bolton in 1958-1959, progressing through local leagues to the Lancashire Combination and Northern Premier League.[4]

Bob Matthewson
Personal information
Full name Robert Matthewson
Date of birth 13 April 1930
Place of birth Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Date of death 10 November 2000 (aged 70)
Place of death Bolton, England
Playing position Centre half
Youth career
Byker YC
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1947–1953 Bolton Wanderers 3 (0)
1953–? Lincoln City ? (?)
Total 3 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Matthewson became a Football League linesman in 1966 and two years later joined the list of referees. He made a quick impression and was senior linesman for the 1970 FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Leeds. A year later he took charge of a League Cup semi-final between Stoke City and West Ham United and in late 1972 was promoted to the FIFA List of referees. He was in charge of the remarkable 1974 FA Charity Shield match. This was Brian Clough's first major match as manager of Leeds but became better-known for a double sending-off. Matthewson sent Leeds United's Billy Bremner and Liverpool's Kevin Keegan off for fighting, the first time players had been dismissed in a major British club match at Wembley. The following year he was referee for the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough between Birmingham City and Fulham.[4] His career in England culminated with Manchester United's 2–1 win over Liverpool in the 1977 FA Cup Final, the result ending Liverpool's hopes of the domestic League and Cup double.[2] In May 1977 he signed on to become an official in the North American Soccer League.[5][6]

On the international stage he only officiated two full international matches: the first was a UEFA Euro 1976 qualifying Group 8 match between Malta and Greece on 23 February 1975 and the second was a friendly between Wales and West Germany on 6 October 1976.[7][8] He also refereed the 1974–75 UEFA Cup semi-final first leg between Köln and Borussia Mönchengladbach on 8 April 1975.[9]

With his wife, Pauline, Matthewson had a daughter Karen, a step-daughter Suzanne and three grandchildren.[2] As well as playing and refereeing football, Matthewson also worked as an engineer for de Havilland in Horwich.[2] Matthewson was portrayed in the 2009 film The Damned United by Peter Quinn, the secretary of Blackburn non-league football club Sporting Athletic.[10]



  • Football League Handbooks, 1966-1977
  • Hugman, Barry J (1984) Football Players' Records 1946-1984, Newnes, p322 - confirmation of birth date and playing career


  1. ^ Exact date of birth unknown. Estimate extrapolated from age at death.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Top ref Bob Matthewson dies". Bolton Evening News. Newsquest Media Group. 10 November 2000. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "BOLTON WANDERERS : 1946/47 - 2008/09". Post War English & Scottish Football League A - Z Player's Transfer Database. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  4. ^ a b Bradford City vs Northampton Town football programme, 23 April 1975 - referee profile of Bob Matthewson
  5. ^ Huff, Donald (3 June 1977). "NASL 'Upgrading' of Officials Has Some Losers Up in Arms". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 June 2017 – via
  6. ^ "FOR THE RECORD: A roundup of the week May 23–28". Sports Illustrated. 6 June 1977. p. 83. Retrieved 4 June 2017 – via
  7. ^ "Malta 2-0 Greece". Union of European Football Associations. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  8. ^ "Germany - International Results - Details 1974-1979". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  9. ^ "The UEFA Cup 1974/75 - VfL 1900 Borussia Mönchengladbach (FRG)". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  10. ^ Watkinson, David (1 April 2009). "Blackburn 'ref' enjoys Damned good role in Brian Clough film". Lancashire Telegraph. Newsquest Media Group. Archived from the original on 14 December 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2010.