That’s certainly the case for Lindsey Robinson and Michael Oliver with the excellent news that they have been appointed as match referee’s respectively for the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final Arsenal v Chelsea, Saturday 5 May, and the Emirates FA Cup Final, Chelsea v Manchester United, Saturday 19 May.
First up on the big stage will be Lindsey assisted by her colleagues Stacey Pearson (Somerset FA) and Kirsty Dowle (Kent FA) with Helen Byrne (Liverpool FA) the fourth official.
Having been Assistant Referee in both the 2014 and 2016 Women’s FA Cup Finals it’s now just reward for Lindsey to take charge of the London derby between two of the leading teams in Women’s football, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Speaking on news of her appointment Lindsey said “It’s a great honour and I’m privileged to have been given the opportunity. I’m coming up to my tenth year as a match official so it’s a nice way to mark my anniversary. You hear about when other referees get the call and you’re happy for them because we’re all one big team, but you never expect it yourself. I’ve enjoyed my season and I think I’ve done all right so I guess that has been reflected in this appointment”
Lindsey first attended her initial referee course on the 19th-20th July 2008 and since then has progressed through the ranks of local youth leagues, Adult Leagues, Supply League and is currently officiating as a Contributory League official, a remarkable success story and a inspiration especially to all female referees taking up refereeing. More than 40.000 tickets have already been sold for the game with Arsenal and Chelsea plus Lindsey and her team set to play / officiate in front of a competition – record crowd.
Next up at Wembley on the 19 May will be Michael and his team Lee Betts (Norfolk FA) Ian Hussin (Liverpool FA), with Lee Mason (Lancashire FA) the fourth official. Constantine Hatzidakis (Kent FA) is the reserve assistant referee. Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire FA) will be the first video assistant referee (VAR) in FA Cup Final history, with Mick McDonough (Northumberland FA) the assistant VAR.
What a game in prospect for Michael and his team, Chelsea v Manchester United, undoubtedly two of our most high profile teams in England with Messrs Conte and Mourinho in charge, no wonder the match is a complete sell out and another record attendance for the FA Cup Final.
Speaking on his appointment Michael said “I was very proud and humbled to receive the call from Peter Elsworth informing me of my appointment. When you start out, taking charge of the Cup Final is not something you think about. As your career progresses it becomes a realistic target but it’s not a call you ever expect to take. This opportunity only comes round once in a referee’s career. It’s funny how things work out because the 1994 Final between Manchester United Chelsea is the one I remember watching. And now here I am taking charge of these two teams in an FA Cup Final 24 years later."
Michael is no stranger to Wembley, though, having taken to the hallowed turf on a number of occasions already. He is the youngest official to take charge of a match at the national stadium when he refereed the 2007 Conference National Play Off Final between Exeter City and Morecambe aged just 22.
His impressive Wembley CV reads 2013 League Cup Final, FA Cup Semi Final a few weeks later and the 2014 FA Community Shield along with Premier League home fixtures for Tottenham Hotspur currently playing at Wembley.
Jeff Russell, Referees Development Officer on behalf of all at Durham FA and the North East Referee family congratulated both Lindsey and Michael on their appointments and added “These appointments are without doubt totally deserved and provide a massive boost to refereeing within the North East. Both Lindsey and Michael are very popular with all referee colleagues across our three North East Counties, giving up any spare time they may have with both their refereeing and work commitments to regularly attend any organised local or national referee events, local RA meetings, to pass on their knowledge and expertise to many of our officials. Both Lindsey and Michael are role models of the highest calibre and are prime examples of what can be achieved in refereeing with personal determination and commitment to succeed with undoubted refereeing ability” I look forward to seeing both Lindsey and Michael proudly walking up the Wembley steps with their respective teams to receive their medals with the whole refereeing fraternity supporting them every step of the way”
John Topping, Chief Executive of Durham FA commented, “To have one of our Durham Referees officiating in a Wembley Cup Final is tremendous for our County and our referee workforce but to have two in one season is absolutely fantastic and this I believe may well be a record. On behalf of all our Directors at Durham FA we wish both Lindsey and Michael and their teams all the best on their big day, enjoying both the build up to the game and the after match reflections and celebrations for what I’m sure will be the highlight of their refereeing careers to date.”