Unforgettable Experiences At Wembley

Abi Marriott & Callum Walchester 2017
Suffolk officials Abi Marriott and Callum Walchester, who were both assistant referees at Wembley on the same weekend
Suffolk officials Abi Marriott and Callum Walchester, who were both assistant referees at Wembley on the same weekend
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TWO Suffolk officials have spoken of their unforgettable experiences as assistant referees at Wembley at the weekend.

Mildenhall’s Abi Marriott was on the line at Saturday’s SSE FA Women’s Cup Final in which Manchester City beat Birmingham City 4-1 in front of a record crowd of 35,271.

The following afternoon, Lowestoft’s Callum Walchester ran the line as Forest Green Rovers stunned Tranmere Rovers in the National League Play-Off Final to win 3-1 and earn promotion to the Football League before 18,801 fans.

Abi Marriott said the noise and atmosphere at Wembley is something she will never forget.

The 25-year-old also said it was great to be greeted by her mentor Trevor Pollard, who lives at Walsham-le-Willows, as she walked up the steps afterwards to receive her medal and to share that moment with him.

Abi, who had admitted she was left speechless after being told she had been appointed to the final, said: “It was by far the best experience I've had in football.

“The noise and atmosphere that the 35,000 spectators created is something I'll never forget.”

Abi said the occasion had exceeded her expectations: “I always anticipated it to be a phenomenal experience, but I didn't quite come to terms with it until the day.

“With the kick off being at 5.15pm, I went through the whole day with emotions of nerves and excitement. Thankfully, I managed to keep myself calm and the game went well.

“As I walked up the Wembley steps afterwards to collect my medal I was greeted by my coach, Trevor Pollard, in the crowd - it was great to share that moment with him.

“He's given up a massive amount of time and effort for me the last six years and I wouldn't have made it to the FA Cup Final without him.”

Suffolk FA Chairman Phil Lawler, who attended Saturday’s final, said: “It was a very proud day for Suffolk football to be represented at such a prestigious occasion which is the pinnacle of women’s football as a player or official.

“I was extremely proud to be there to witness the first female official to represent the county at Wembley.”

Twenty-four-year-old Callum, who had admitted he was shell-shocked after being told of his selection, said of Sunday’s occasion: “For me the experience was unforgettable.

“It is something I have no doubt will stay with me long after my refereeing career has ended.

“I tried not to think about the occasion too much prior to the day as I wanted to prepare for it just like any other game, as ultimately I was there to do a job. But, now, when I look back and remember parts of the day, I am overwhelmed with emotion.

“The memory which will stay with me was post match when I walked up the steps to collect my medal with my colleagues. Whilst there I took a moment, just a second, to think about where I was and the feeling that I felt at that moment will stay with me.”

Suffolk FA Referee Development Officer Mary Harmer attended both finals along with County Cup Appointments Officer Ian Smillie.

She said: “I was delighted to be at Wembley to enjoy the occasion along with Abi and Callum. They both thoroughly deserve this recognition through these end-of-season appointments.

“Abi and Callum are an inspiration to all Suffolk officials who both demonstrate the opportunities available to match officials who work hard throughout the season.”

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