Referee Josh makes Football League history

Promising young referee Josh Smith.
Promising young referee Josh Smith.

A referee from Bourne has become the youngest official on the Football League list.

Josh Smith (22) has just been promoted to the national list of assistant referees, which means he will run the line in Football League games from League Two to The Championship when the new seasons starts in August.

He has also become a Level 2B referee meaning he will referee games next season at Step 2 of the non-league pyramid - which will be at Conference North and South level.

Smith, who passed his basic referees course in July 2007 with Stamford Referee’s Association, started his refereeing career officiating in the Peterborough and District Youth League.

The first adult game he took charge of was in the Peterborough and District League between Crowland Reserves and Eye Reserves.

At the end of his first season refereeing adult football, he was promoted to a Level 6 referee and the season after he received a double promotion and jumped up to Level 4, where he refereed in the Premier Division of the United Counties League.

Then it was up to Level 3 (Northern and Southern League Premier Division) and at the end of his first year at that level he was promoted as an assistant to run the line in the Football Conference Premier Division.

Last season more recognition followed. He was appointed as referee for an international match between England Under 17s and Spain Under 17s, he was assistant referee at the FA County Youth Cup Final between Middlesex FA and Cheshire FA, and was the man in the middle for the Eastern Counties Cup Final between Norwich United and Walsham-le-Willows.

Alongside his football achievements, Smith has also completed his degree at Bedford University to become a qualified PE teacher. He will take up his first teaching post in Bedfordshire from September.

His achievements in refereeing and at university were acknowledged by the university when he was awarded the Vice-Chancellors award for outstanding contribution to sport in April 2015.

Smith said: “I would like to say a big thank-you to Trevor Mitchell from Stamford Referees Association and Phil Joslin, formerly of Lincolnshire FA, who did an awful lot to encourage me in my early refereeing days.

“But perhaps my biggest inspiration in refereeing has been my dad Nigel, who is also an active referee. He kept my feet firmly on the ground during my rise up the refereeing ladder and offered encouragement through the tough times when a game didn’t go as expected.”