Premier League referees told their chauffeur to "f****** floor the pedal" to get away from furious Newcastle fans after they sent off Alan Shearer.
Jeff Winter was fourth official of the match between Newcastle and Aston Villa in August 1999, a game which was being overseen in the middle by Uriah Rennie.
Newcastle fans were enjoying how the game was panning out when Villa boss John Gregory was given his marching orders from the dugout.
But it all turned sour when Rennie made the brave decision to give Shearer the first red card of his career.
It was a second yellow card for the striker, who was playing in his 100th match for the Toon, with the second offence being an accumulation of little fouls.
The offence which brought out the second yellow card was minor in isolation.
“No doubt that’s why 52,000 fans reacted as they did,” fourth official Winter recalled in his autobiography, Who’s The B*****d In The Black.
“The lid came off and the feeling of hatred increased as the game went on. I agreed with Uriah. The decision was brave, but correct, and was in keeping with what we had been ordered to do to clamp down on persistent misconduct.
“Newcastle fans have a collective blind spot for Shearer. For ability and winning mentality, there have been few equals in the game.
“His goalscoring record and his qualities of leadership have spoken for themselves down the years.
“But he was not an easy player to referee, because he was an aggressive challenger, and had learnt all the tricks of the trade.
“Add to that his god-like status in the eyes of the fans, and the task of the official was made even harder.”
But the drama of sending off Newcastle’s hero did not stop once he had left the pitch.
Winter, Rennie and their assistants were told by the chief steward following the match that a crowd of frustrated Toon fans had gathered and were waiting to let their feelings known.
“It is best not to go out of the front door, we will go out another way,” was the instruction from the steward.
The chauffeur headed to a different exit, the officials were shepherded to another side of the stadium, round the back of the club shop.
“It was as if we were escaping from a prisoner of war camp, looking over our shoulder for guards,” Winter recalled.
“Fortunately, around that time the FA had decided to provide transport for officials to ensure their safety.
“Who knows what would have happened after the Newcastle game if we had all been left to make our way in our own cars. It was bad enough as it was.
“As we left the ground, with hundreds of fans still milling around, we immediately hit red traffic lights.
“Uriah is instantly recognisable, and I lost my cool. I politely told the driver to ‘hit the f****** floor with that pedal, and sod the lights’.
“Some of the Newcastle fans, had the latched onto us, would certainly have gone into thug mode.
“For me, it was like being a young Middlesbrough fan all over again.
“We had marched into enemy territory, done our job, and were now legging it.”