Twins Ashley and Oliver Hammond have taken their first steps on their refereeing career after passing their preliminary qualifications and officiating their first matches.
The Bourne Grammar School pupils, who are both 15, earned their licence to blow after successfully completing the Northants FA referee course, and the brothers made their competitive debut at Stamford’s Borderville stadium just two days after being awarded their whistles.
Ashley, who is one minute younger than Oliver, was first to take to the pitch, with his match starting at 10.30am, and was quickly followed by Oliver, who took charge of his game at midday.
Peterborough United fan Ashley said: “I really enjoyed the course. It was really well run and it allowed me to learn a lot about the game.
“Obviously, being a referee is totally different to playing the game, and while I’ve realised I’m unlikely to make it as a professional footballer, I have the possibility of going far in my career as a referee if I work hard and keep on progressing.”
His first match in black proved to be a baptism of fire.
He said: “My first game was a bit of an eye opener. I didn’t hand any cards out, but there was a bit of a scuffle, and I had to bring the players together to calm things down a bit. But they responded well, and I really enjoyed being out there.”
His older sibling, a keen Manchester City supporter, also has desires to carve himself out a career officiating.
Oliver said: “I’ve always been interested in football and have been playing since I was six. Refereeing is something I’m passionate about, and I would love to make a career out of it.
“The level of refereeing in the Premier League is really high, and it’s my aim to be there.
“There’s no reason why I can’t fulfil my dreams.”
Luke Scott, Northants FA referee development officer said: “This course challenges them physically, as well as mentally.
“After completing the course the referees must oversee five games of 9 or 11-a-side football before discussing their progress at a call-back evening with the county FA.
“They’re then required to sit a Laws of the Game exam which, once passed, will certify them as a fully qualified referee.”
The next step for the youngsters is to get five games under their belt before sitting an internal exam.
The next referee course will be held in the May half-term on the Embankment synthetic pitch at Peterborough’s Bushfield Leisure Centre.