Referee reunited with angry Blackburn Rovers fan 18 years on

Lancashire Telegraph: Referee Keith Cooper with Alan Birbeck Referee Keith Cooper with Alan Birbeck

EX-Premier League referee Keith Cooper has never forgotten the day he was chased up Bolton Road by a fuming Blackburn Rovers fan.

And after telling the story for the last 18 years, the Welshman had an unlikely reunion, and reconciliation, with his pursuer on Easter Monday.

The pair were re-introduced through a mutual friend, who had heard the story and recognised Rovers-mad Alan ‘Birdy’ Birkbeck as the irate fan.

Keith now works for Cardiff City, and gave Alan a tour of the Bluebirds’ ground before they played Rovers on Monday.

They first ‘met’ towards the end of Blackburn’s title-winning season in 1995, after Keith awarded a contentious penalty for Manchester City, which led to a 3-2 defeat for Rovers at Ewood Park.

Keith said: “After the game my wife and I were waiting in the stadium for all the fans to leave, but Alan hung on for quite a while and gave me plenty of stick when we came out. I thought I’d heard all the swear words before that.

“Then when we were in the car I saw him walking up the hill, so wound down the window and said ‘good night’ to him as we drove past.”

Keith said Alan then chased after the car, shouting all the way, and nearly caught up with him at the traffic lights.

Retired printer Alan, 64, who lives next to Ewood Park, said: “I thought I’d never see Keith again. But it was good fun to meet him and go behind the scenes at their stadium.

“I was asking why he gave the penalty. He said Colin Hendry had pulled on Keith Curle’s shorts which I thought was rubbish.”

Keith said he stood by his decision, but as they said goodbye on Monday Alan said, ‘It still wasn’t a penalty’.

Comments (5)

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4:29pm Thu 4 Apr 13

crammed as a wasp says...

So he was chased down the street by a swearing Blackburn hooligan?

That kind of thing gets you a lifetime ban these days.
So he was chased down the street by a swearing Blackburn hooligan? That kind of thing gets you a lifetime ban these days. crammed as a wasp

7:18pm Thu 4 Apr 13

derekberry says...

Thats life....When your an old fella its banter,a laugh, its part of life to abuse
people in front of their loved ones.When your young.....lock them up...throw away the key.......
Thats life....When your an old fella its banter,a laugh, its part of life to abuse people in front of their loved ones.When your young.....lock them up...throw away the key....... derekberry

8:49pm Thu 4 Apr 13

Bill Carson says...

Legend !!!
Legend !!! Bill Carson

10:17pm Thu 4 Apr 13

N4you! says...

Alan you look like my milkman from the eighties
Alan you look like my milkman from the eighties N4you!

10:30am Fri 5 Apr 13

PpMac says...

Well its a nice story although I suspect Alan's vocal abuse has changed from refs to indians....however 'Lawrence' get your facts right, it was NOT a last minute penalty, I think you will find the pen was given in the first half which ended 2-1, then Rosler and Paul Walsh scored in the second half to give City a 3-2 win, AND it certainly was not a champions winning game!!!
Well its a nice story although I suspect Alan's vocal abuse has changed from refs to indians....however 'Lawrence' get your facts right, it was NOT a last minute penalty, I think you will find the pen was given in the first half which ended 2-1, then Rosler and Paul Walsh scored in the second half to give City a 3-2 win, AND it certainly was not a champions winning game!!! PpMac

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