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Referee reunited with angry Blackburn Rovers fan 18 years on
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’.
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