Lancashire Sunday League chiefs want ex-players to become ‘whistle blowers’

Former Premier League referee Neil Swarbrick played for Bamber Bridge Wanderers before taking up the whistle (photo: Getty Images)
Former Premier League referee Neil Swarbrick played for Bamber Bridge Wanderers before taking up the whistle (photo: Getty Images)
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The Lancashire Sunday Football League has launched an initiative to persuade their ex-players to take up refereeing.

For decades, ex-players were the main source of referees for local football leagues and countless former local league footballers turned to refereeing when their playing careers were over.

Several of them progressed to higher leagues, most notably Neil Swarbrick who took up refereeing after finishing playing for Bamber Bridge Wanderers in this league and he went on to spend seven years as a Premier League referee before retiring in 2018.

More recently the Football Association and County FAs have embarked on a successful recruitment programme resulting in a significant increase in the number of new refs, albeit only a small number are ex-players.

The league plans to supply former footballers who take up the whistle with a discounted referee kit, whistle and assistant referee flags, referees’ notebook and cards.

They also offer a reimbursement of 50% of the cost of the referee course on completion of 10 fixtures, plus a year’s membership of Preston Referees’ Society.

To ensure all new starters are given the best chance to enhance their knowledge, experience and skill-set, the LSFL operates a mentoring and coaching system by aligning newly qualified referees with the more experienced officials within the league so they can learn their trade.

This initiative has the full support of the Lancashire Football Association (LFA) and Preston Referees’ Society.

League chairman Eamonn McNamara said: “This is a great opportunity for some of our ex-players to keep an active involvement and at the same time put something back into the game.”

Anyone interested in taking up refereeing is asked to contact the Lancashire Sunday League referee manager Mark Moore on 07765 668045 or e-mail him at lsflreferees@outlook.com