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Philip Mason, of Old Malton, takes a trip down memory lane
9:50am Wednesday 16th May 2012 in Sport
As Manchester City celebrated their first top-flight title since 1968, special memories came flooding back for a Ryedale official who was at the heart of the action 44 years ago.
Philip Mason, of Old Malton, was senior linesman when City defeated Newcastle United 4-3 on the last day of the 1967/8 season to be crowned First Division champions.
City went into the game level on points with Manchester United but ahead on goal difference – exactly like this year’s situation in the Barclays Premier League – and victory saw them finish top as United slipped to a 2-1 loss at Sunderland.
Mason, who was a Football League linesman from the mid-1960s to early 1970s, said: “Being linesman for that game was quite an honour to have. It was a very good game. I don’t recollect any controversial decisions whatsoever and everything went very smoothly.
“The atmosphere was fantastic. It was at St James’ Park and the attendance was 46,300 but 20,000 of those were City fans. But, if possible, yesterday’s atmosphere was bigger as City were playing at home and obviously that makes a huge difference.”
The 74-year-old revealed that he is a Manchester United fan but said refereeing their arch-rivals to title victory did not affect his role on the touchline.
“Referees sometimes get accused of being biased but I don’t think that’s the case,” he said. “You forget all about the teams once you’re out there and have to be neutral. Childhood teams don’t come into it.”
But he added: “Manchester City have had a wonderful season but they have bought success whereas United were built much more on home-grown talent, with the likes of Giggs, Scholes and Beckham. They will put up a strong fight again next year I am sure.”
Mason, who retired as Malton School deputy head-teacher in 1993, was encouraged to take up football by his father, who was a local referee, but he soon switched to an officiating role.
“I knew playing was not something I would be best at so I became a Football League linesman and non-League referee instead,” he said. “I was involved at school and that experience helped me immensely.”
He was also a linesman in the 1968 FA Cup sixth-round game between West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool, with Albion going on to win the cup.
Memorabilia brings back these treasured memories, including when he briefly took control of a League game between West Ham and Burnley in August 1968 after the referee was knocked out by the ball.
“I always came away from games with at least one or two programmes,” Mason said. “But for some reason, I never took a programme from the game when City won the League. I guess I must have just got caught up in everything.”