Rotherham vs Sutton United


Catch up with Durham FA RDO and Papa John Final referee Sebastian Stockbridge as he speaks about his experience refereeing at Wembley Stadium. 

Durham County FA Referee Development Officer Sebastian Stockbridge was the man in charge of this seasons Papa John's Trophy Final at Wembley which seen League One Rotherham United face League Two Sutton United.

Seb has kindly participated in a Question and Answer regarding how he felt before during and after the final as well as some very good advice to any other young aspiring referees who want to follow Seb's footsteps. 


Q: How did you find out about the appointment and how did you react?

A: Mike Jones the NGR manager attempted to call me at 10.30am but I missed his call being at work. So I tried to call him back to no avail, he then rang back about 15 minutes later. He tried to be funny with me asking about my availability etc.. then asked if I was free on the 3rd April and I asked him what was happening that day? We both knew what was happening and he asked if I would like to referee the final. It was a tad overwhelming but very exciting!

Q: Any behind the scenes secrets from Wembley?

A: Haha, none that I found but it is massive!! We were fortunate enough to have a look around on the Saturday and the size and quality of the team changing rooms and other areas are second to none.

Q: How did you celebrate after the match?

A: With a good massage from Barry who was our therapist all weekend! All the officials and their partners were taken out by PGMOL director Mike Jones to a lovely restaurant in Ealing where we enjoyed a post match meal and drink.

Q: Did you get nervous before the game?

A: Yeah of course who wouldn’t be, to referee a TV final at the home of football is a massive occasion for any match official. It was a mix of nervous and excitement to accomplish a major refereeing goal but also wanting it to go well too.

Q:Did you keep preparations the same?

A: On the Saturday we visited Wembley to get our bearings and enjoy the experience of the venue, but come Sunday it was game time and I went about the pre-game preparation in as much the same way as any other game with safety briefing, team sheets, pre-game briefing with my colleagues and warm up.

Q: How did it feel refereeing at the home of football?

A: It was awesome!! The whole experience and weekend was something special. Obviously its always sweeter when the game goes well from a refereeing point of view as we can then relax as we are there to do a job.

Q: Physically how demanding was it, given the big pitch and extra time?

A: Not only was it physically demanding but also mentally too due to the emotions and demands required to concentrate and for so long. I was drained after but had a great post game massage and were able to mentally decompress after and take it all in what we had accomplished as a team.

Q: How did it feel officiating in front of a big crowd?

A: It was great to have all the fans from both teams in the lower bowl at Wembley it added to such a great atmosphere. Walking out was such a proud moment with such a great atmosphere.

Q: Where has he put his medal?

A: My match medal along with the match ball is sitting proudly in my man cave with my other refereeing achievements.

Q: What is the process to be chosen to referee a cup final?

A: Mike Jones, PGMOL NGR director made the appointments for the final at it was based around our merit table positions that we are ranked on throughout the season.

Q: How important as a referee is it to have a support network around you? Who has helped you to get to where you are in refereeing today?

A: It is vital to be able to succeed, the support I have had from my wife, Nichola and my parents Ivor and Lesley as well as my close friends, colleagues and coaches such as fellow referee David Webb, has been amazing they have always been there for me through the lows and highs. Being able to have such great support is crucial within the refereeing world and without these people I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today.


Q: What would your message be to any aspiring match officials?

A: Be the best you can be and treat every game as a cup final. Work hard and leave it all on the green stuff, you only get one chance so give it your all. There will be difficult times so make sure to have a great team around you and learn from the failures and celebrate your successes.