‘Twas April 2001, Newcastle were drawing 0-0 against Ipswich Town at Portman Road and then a hero came along to change both the course of the game, and football as we know it, forever more.
That man was auteur referee Mike Dean who, in the 76th minute of said game, sent Nolberto Solano off for a deliberate handball and awarded a penalty to Ipswich.
Marcus Stewart stepped up and converted the resulting spot-kick, with the Tractor Boys duly holding on to claim a slim 1-0 victory.
It was the very first red card of Dean’s refereeing career. Genesis. On Tuesday night, some 18 years later, the Wirrall’s finest finally brought up his century.
Ashley Young was the lucky soul who found himself on the receiving end of Number 100 as the Manchester United captain picked up two yellow cards in a 2-1 league defeat against Wolves.
Cometh the 57th minute, cometh the moment we’ve all been waiting nigh-on three months for…
In a strange quirk of coincidence, Dean was also the referee who showed Young the only other red card of his career too, back during his Aston Villa days in 2009.
Off. You. Pop. Indeed.
— David Squires (@squires_david) 3 April 2019
After moving into triple figures, Dean is now way out in front on the Premier League red card leader board, a full 33 dismissals ahead of Phil Dowd (67) in second place.
the last PL season not to contain a Mike Dean red card began in the 1990s
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) 2 April 2019
Mike Riley is third (66) on the list, with Graham Poll (63) and Martin Atkinson (58) making up the top five.
Proof if proof were needed that Dean truly is operating on a different level.