Ken Aston

From Academic Kids

Kenneth George Aston (1 September 1915 - 23 October 2001) was an English teacher, soldier, and football referee, who was responsible for many important developments in football refereeing.

Born in Colchester, Essex, he graduated from St Lukes' College, Exeter. He qualified as a referee in 1936, working his way through the leagues becoming a Football League linesman in the 1949-50 season, and becoming a League referee. In the Second World War he was rejected by the Royal Air Force because of an injured ankle, and subsequently joined the Royal Artillery before transferring to the British Indian Army where he finished the war with the rank of lieutenant-colonel and served on the Changi War Crimes Tribunal.

On his return from military service in 1946, he became the first League referee to wear the black uniform with white trim which became the standard for referees. The following year he introduced bright yellow linesmen's flags in place of the pennants in the colours of the home team which had been used before. In 1953 he became head teacher at Newbury Park School and progressed to refereeing senior League matches. He refereed the 1960 European Nations Cup final, but he is best known for refereeing the notorious Battle of Santiago, the match between Chile and Italy in the 1962 World Cup. The atmosphere of this match had been inflamed by Italian journalists' derogatory descriptions of the beauty and morals of Chilean womanhood, of the condition of the Chilean capital, and by the Chileans' dislike of the Italian practice of using South American players with Italian passports. The match got off to a 'vigorous' start, with the first player cautioned within seconds of the game beginning. After 12 minutes Italy's Giorgio Ferrini had to be escorted off the field by Aston and armed policemen (who were required twice more later in the match) for hacking down the Chilean centre-forward, Landa. Later, Aston sent off David for a retaliatory kick at the head of the Chilean outside-left, Lionel Sanchez, although Sanchez himself was allowed to stay on the pitch despite breaking the nose of the Argentinian-born Italian inside-right, Humberto Maschio, with a left hook.

Aston did not referee any more games in the 1962 World Cup, having strained his Achilles tendon, but he was appointed to the FIFA Referees Committee for 8 years, chairing it for 4 years. He was in charge of all referees for the 1966, 1970, and 1974 World Cups.

Following an incident in the England vs Argentina match in the 1966 World Cup, when a player either did not understand, or chose not to understand, that he had been sent off, he devised the system of showing a yellow card for a caution and a red card for a sending off (expulsion), which was first used in the 1970 World Cup. In 1966 Aston also introduced the practice of naming a substitute referee who could take over in the case of the referee being unable to continue for any reason (this eventually evolved into the practice of having a designated Fourth official). He also successfully proposed that the pressure of the ball should be specified in the Laws of the Game. In 1974 he introduced the number board for substitutes, so that players can easily see who is being substituted.

Aston became senior lecturer of the Football Association Referees' Panel and chief instructor for the American Youth Soccer Organisation. In 1997 he was awarded the MBE "for services to U.S. soccer".

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