‘Man City wouldn’t be where they are without me – I should have a statue at the Etihad’


Retired referee Mark Halsey joked Manchester City wouldn’t be Treble winners without him – and he deserves a statue at the Etihad.

Halsey, 62, spent most of officiating career in the Premier League. But he of course had to work his way up the ladder and before making it to the top flight, he was the man in the middle for the 1999 League One play-off final.

City faced now-League Two side Gillingham, who scored two late goals in normal time and looked to be heading for promotion. Five minutes were added on at the end of the game.

Kevin Horlock pulled one back before Paul Dickov scored in the 97th minute to send the game to penalties, with City winning the shootout 3-1.

Halsey came in for heavy criticism for his role – especially after he was seen drinking with the victorious fans that night. It was the first topic of conversation during his appearance on the Under The Cosh podcast.

“I’m still getting stick now, especially on Twitter, oh the s*** I get from them fans,” Halsey began, before going on to add: “What a day, what a day.

“But the night was even better. It wasn’t my fault the Football League put me in the same hotel as Man City fans, was it?”

Recalling the events at the end of the game from his perspective, Halsey continued: “Nicky Weaver (who saved the decisive penalty for City) does the run. While Nicky’s running one way, I’m running down the tunnel with all the Gillingham fans wanting to chase me.

“It was five minutes, but it should’ve been longer but obviously with all the time wasting that was going on, goal scoring celebrations, cautions, substitutions, but as I say, City fans have got a lot to thank me for.

“Just look where they are now, they wouldn’t be where they are now without me would they? And do you know what, there should be a statue up there of me outside the Etihad.”

After pulling his tongue out of his cheek, he offered an apology to the Gillingham fans and asked: “Please stop giving me s*** on Twitter.”

Halsey, who now lives in Spain, reignited their fury back in May when he tweeted a selfie on his way to City’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid with the caption: “Come on City.”

Speaking about that incident, he said: “I took my daughter and her boyfriend, obviously he’s Spanish, a Madrid fan. My daughters been out in school here for several years so she’s fluent in Spanish.

“I got some tickets, went up there, had our picture taken in the train station at Alicante, ‘on our way to Madrid’. Being British, as you do, you always want the British side to do well.

“Some I just put a picture on, ‘come on City’ and then all of a sudden ‘bing, bing, bing, bing’. I went absolutely ballistic. The Gillingham fans, oh my god, wanted the FA to do an investigation 24 years after the event.”

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