Gary Willard

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Gary Willard
Full name Gareth S Willard
Born (1959-09-03) 3 September 1959 (age 56)
Worthing, Sussex, England
Other occupation Inland Revenue officer
Years League Role
1990-1994 Football League Referee
1994-2000 Premier League Referee
Years League Role
1996-1999 FIFA listed Referee

Gareth S. Willard (born 3 September 1959[1]) is an English former football referee. He officiated in the Football League and the Premier League, and for FIFA. He comes from Worthing in Sussex.[2] He has continued to maintain an involvement in top-class football since retiring in 2000.[2][3] His other occupation was as an officer for the Inland Revenue.[4]


Willard became a referee for the Football League in 1990, and was promoted to the Premier League list of referees in 1994. He became a FIFA referee in 1996.

On 27 January 1998, he was referee for the Football League Cup semi-final first leg between Liverpool and Middlesbrough, which was a 2-1 home win.[5] He also controlled the semi-final second leg the following year in the same competition, when Spurs won 1-0 at Wimbledon on 16 February 1999, for an aggregate win by that score.[6]

On 28 March 1998, Willard was involved in "astonishing scenes" at Oakwell Stadium after the end of the Barnsley versus Liverpool match in the Premier League, which finished 2-3. He had occasion to send off three players from the home side - Darren Barnard, Chris Morgan and Darren Sheridan - in the second half, causing play to be suspended for five minutes after Willard had been chased by an interloper. He had to be given a "police safety escort" off the pitch after the game.[7]

It has been commented that Willard had to withdraw from Premier League appointments after what turned out to be his last ever match in that competition due to fitness problems,[8] but he continued to referee for FIFA into the following season, once having the misfortune to mistakenly issue three yellow cards to FC Lausanne-Sport's Eduardo Magnin before sending him off during their home game against Celta Vigo in the UEFA Cup in September 1999. The English referees' chief at the time, Philip Don, stated that Willard had not taken any Premier League appointments due to "personal reasons".[9]

That final Premiership game was West Ham's 4-0 win over Middlesbrough at Upton Park on 16 May 1999.[10]


  1. ^ Birthdate confirmation: website.
  2. ^ a b Town of residence and activities after retirement: The Argus (Brighton) website.
  3. ^ Fitness problems in 1999, and activities after retirement: The Argus (Brighton) website.
  4. ^ Other occupation: Daily Telegraph website.
  5. ^ League Cup semi-final first leg, Liverpool v. Middlesbrough, 1998: website.
  6. ^ League Cup semi-final second leg, Wimbledon v. Spurs, 1999: website.
  7. ^ Three players sent off and crowd trouble, Barnsley v. Liverpool, 1998: BBC News website.
  8. ^ Activities after League refereeing
  9. ^ Three yellow cards equals one red, Lausanne Sports v. Celta Vigo, UEFA Cup (also Philip Don's quote): Daily Telegraph website.
  10. ^ Last ever Premier League match, West Ham v. Middlesbrough, 1999: website.

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