Northants Officials Lead The Way...
celebrating the recent success of two prestigious officials from northamptonshire
As we approach the start of the FIFA World Cup, we want to shine a light on two of our high level officials who have both had a successful year so far.
Stuart passed his referee course aged 16 whilst still at school, which meant that the early part of his career was spent refereeing classmates. He then started to referee on the John Henry Youth League, where his first game was Duston Youth vs Gregory Celtic u10. Stuart found that he was enjoying refereeing and started on the promotion pathway, spending two seasons at Class 2 before being promoted onto Class 1 (Level 4). This meant that Stuart would be refereeing games on the United Counties League (UCL) and running the line on the Southern League. He spent 4 seasons at this level and he tells us he had a fantastic time with friends and colleagues alike. Stuart humbly tells us he finished 5th, 3rd, 3rd and 2nd in his 4 years on the UCL, before obtaining promotion to Level 3.
Aged 25, Stuart was now operating as a referee on the Southern League and as an assistant referee on the Conference (now the National League). This went extremely well and he was promoted to the English Football League as an assistant referee aged 26. Stuart tells us that this was his most enjoyable period in refereeing.
Stuart was then promoted to the Panel List of Referees (now Level 2A) and running the line on the Premier League, at which point he was selected to be on the FIFA list of Assistant Referees – a huge honour!
A difficult phone call ensued with the Head of Refereeing at the time, Neale Barry, whereby Stuart was asked to choose between refereeing and assistant refereeing. No medals for guessing which route he picked… Stuart tells us he thinks it was a sensible decision, we tend to agree with him!
In his career, Stuart has completed 13 seasons as a Select Group Assistant Referee, 11 seasons as a FIFA Assistant Referee, covered 400+ Premier League matches, 160+ international matches and is about to embark on the biggest competition in world football.
In Stuart’s words: “who would have thought a young lad from Kingsthorpe would make it to Qatar?!”
Other huge achievements include the FA Cup Final in 2012 and 2021, League Cup Final in 2013 and 2017 and UEFA Super Cup in 2014 and 2022. There are also many, many more, both domestically and internationally.
As you can see, we’re all very proud of Stuart’s achievements to date and we wish him all the very best as he embarks on his journey in Qatar. All the best Stu!
Dean started refereeing aged 15 in the Northamptonshire Youth Leagues. Dean was fortunate to have a supportive Father, Tony, who drove him to games and supported him in his development. Dean tells us that his first match was in one of the u11 leagues at Acre Lane. Like Stuart, Dean got the ‘buzz’ for refereeing and quickly progressed in Northamptonshire grassroots football, starting to referee adult football aged 18, which he combined with playing local adult football.
Unlike his first youth game, Dean does remember his first adult game, which was in the Northants Combination between Bozeat Reserves vs Wilby Reserves. He thinks.
Dean quickly progressed through the old Class 3-1 system and eventually onto the UCL. Three years later, Dean was promoted onto the Southern League, which was shortly followed by a promotion to the Panel List of Referees (now Level 2A) and, at the same time, a promotion onto the English Football League as assistant referee. Dean settled at this level and enjoyed operating at the senior level of the game.
In 2005, aged 29, Dean refereed his first ever Football League game at Notts County, which was followed by a mid-season promotion to the EFL in 2006. At the end of that season, Dean was appointed to referee the Conference (now the National League) play-off final between Halifax Town vs Hereford United at the Walkers Stadium in Leicester. The match was televised live on Sky and, after going to extra-time, was won 3-2 by Hereford United.
Dean tells us that the highlight of his career (surprisingly – not refereeing at the Walkers Stadium?!) was refereeing the EFL Trophy Final at Wembley between Portsmouth vs Sunderland in front of a record breaking 85,000 people. This was later followed by a promotion to the Select Group 2 Referee’s List, operating on the EFL Championship. During his time on the EFL, Dean has refereed a monumental 500 matches.
From all of us at Northamptonshire FA, a huge congratulations to Dean for obtaining this achievement. Keep up the good work Dean!
If you would like to see the interview between Dean and the PGMOL following the completion of his 500th match, please click here.
If this article has inspired you to start refereeing – or if you’re a qualified referee and you would like to apply for promotion to the next level, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org