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-= The Tributes of KEN ASTON MBE #39 =-
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He Kept Hitting the Yellow, and Red
and It Gave Him an Idea!!!
The first use of yellow and red cards in soccer matches was in 1966 during the World Cup Final between England and Argentina. The use of cards came from an idea by English soccer referee Ken Aston. Here's how Aston tells how yellow and red cards came into existence:

It followed a particularly difficult game in the 1966 World Cup Finals between England and Argentina. The referee spoke only German, and it was quite a rough game.

The following morning the two famous Charlton brothers, Jack and Bobby, were breakfasting in bed looking at the Sunday newspapers reporting the game. Suddenly Jack said to Bobby, "It says I was cautioned yesterday; I didn't know I was cautioned. "Neither did I," said Bobby.

"It says that you were cautioned, too, Bobby."

"Me? Never!" said Bobby.

So they rang up the tournament manager and he said, "I didn't know you were cautioned. I'll ring FIFA." I was in the office at the time. The record keeper, secretary confirmed that both had been, in fact, cautioned.

I thought little more about it and, having finished my business in the office, I went and got my little MG sports car out to go home. Driving up the little side street to the main drag, the traffic light was green. So I accelerated to get to the green light, and it suddenly went yellow and went red, and because of the fact that it was a little side road, I had to wait a really long time before it did go green again. Got into the main drag, and immediately there were three sets of traffic lights about 50 yards apart, all green. Did the same thing, accelerate. Same thing, yellow, red. Yellow, take it easy. Red, finished.

I though, well; this is the way to overcome the language problem in international matches. And so I sat on this until 1970 and launched the yellow and red card system in the World Cup Finals in Mexico that same year."

Editor's note: Ken Aston also was instrumental in the design of the black and white uniform. He modified the linesmen's (assistant referee's) flag for better visibility, instituted a comprehensive training program to help standardize referee judgment prior to the 1970 World Cup. Although Aston recently celebrated his 82nd birthday, he still continues as a soccer clinician. This bit of soccer history appeared in the November 1996 issue of the NISOA Newsletter.

We welcome any photo's or stories of Ken Aston you would like to share here in this section of the website
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