Warsop referee to officiate at Wembley for non-league play-off final

David Hunt, who will be an assistant referee at Wembley on Saturday.
David Hunt, who will be an assistant referee at Wembley on Saturday.

Warsop will be represented when one of the biggest matches of the non-league football season takes place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

For David Hunt, who hails from the village, has been appointed as one of the assistant referees for the Vanarama National League promotion play-off final between Salford City and AFC Fylde.

The final, which will see the winners promoted to the Football League to replace Notts County, is a ‘dream come true’ for Hunt, who says he couldn’t believe it when he got the nod.

Clearly delighted, the teacher said: “I received the call on Sunday night from Peter Ellsworth, the senior referee manager at the FA.

“He just said: it’s good news, you’re on Saturday’s final at Wembley. I just remember putting the phone down shocked that I would be refereeing at such a tremendous venue.

“I watched Sunday’s semi-final between Salford and Eastleigh with some friends and we commented how well the officials had done. Little did I think that, three hours later, I’d be gearing up for the final.”

The 34-year-old Hunt has been refereeing since the age of 17. He was promoted on to the National League list in 2017 and, in just two years, he has been handed such a prestigious fixture to reward his tireless efforts.

It puts the seal on a memorable campaign for Hunt, who was also on the line for the FA Trophy semi-final between Fylde and Stockport County back in March.

He said: “I owe Saturday to my family. Without my dad Paul and my sisters Paula and Claire, I wouldn’t be in a position to officiate on such a grand stage. Their support has never wavered through the good times and bad, and I am truly thankful.”

Hunt, who also plays cricket for Chesterfield, is a committee member of the Mansfield Referees Society.

He added: “We have a fantastic group of officials at the society and representing all of them will be truly an honour. The support given has been second to none and I thank anyone who has given me advice over the course of the season.”

Having admitted to thinking his chance to shine on the bigger stages in football had gone, the likeable official has some advice for aspiring referees hoping to replicate his successes in the future.

He said: “Dreams can come true if you work hard and dedicate your time to the cause. Clearly, this has paid off for me and I hope to enjoy the occasion on Saturday.”

The match kicks off at 3 pm and will be shown live on BT Sport.