Two of Kent FA’s match officials have been appointed to this weekend’s Papa John’s Trophy Final at Wembley between Sunderland and Tranmere Rovers (14 March, 3pm KO).
Stuart Butler has been named as Assistant Referee, whilst Steve Brown is the game’s Reserve Assistant Referee.
Having already spoken to Steve, we caught up with Assistant Referee, Stuart Butler.
With just a couple of days to go until the first major domestic cup final of the 2020/2021 season, Stuart, a Sports Development Officer for Kent County Council, revealed how he initially qualified a number of years ago.
“I passed the exam in 1994 and used to combine refereeing with playing for Staplehurst and Barming,” he said. “I began to really enjoy refereeing and started working up through the leagues whilst living in Stoke-on-Trent, and then Manchester, before returning to Kent and gaining Level 3 status.”
Having gained promotion onto the EFL at the age of 33, Stuart has enjoyed 11 seasons as a National List Assistant Referee, having completed over 200 matches as a match official. Speaking about this appointment in particular, years of hard work have finally paid off.
“I’m really proud; we all work so hard across the year so it's definitely the highlight so far, although it is a shame that we are having to play behind closed doors,” Stuart admitted. “Getting to Wembley, and being involved in a final, was on my bucket list so I’m obviously pleased to tick it off.”
Stuart was keen to help promote the role of refereeing, and would encourage anyone to take up the whistle.
“Learn from others that have been there and done it and be sure to speak to your colleagues; it’s amazing how quickly you can form support networks,” Stuart insisted. “You never stop learning. Use you County FA, local Referee Association branch and take advantage of the many development opportunities on offer. Officiating can be so rewarding and will give you a real sense of achievement maintaining involvement in the game!”
In celebrating both appointments, Referee Development Officer Nick Dunn was pleased to share the positive news.
“Having two of our National List Assistant Referees appointed to the same final is a fantastic cause for celebration,” he said. “This is a great appointment for Stuart and Steve, which demonstrates and epitomises both their hard work, ability and dedication to officiating. On behalf of the Kent FA, we are very proud of both match officials; this should act as a great advert to those at the grassroots level of the game with their appointments demonstrating what can be achieved.
“We wish Stuart and Steve the very best of luck, and hope the ball runs kindly for them (and their colleagues) on the 14 March 2021.”
For more information on refereeing in Kent, please contact Nick Dunn via email at Nick.Dunn@KentFA.com