SUFFOLK referee George Byrne has spoken of his ‘immense feeling of pride’ after receiving his Match Official of the Year accolade in The FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards.
The 26-year-old collected the award at Sunday’s 2018 FA Community Shield match at Wembley Stadium in which Manchester City defeated Chelsea 2-1.
He was presented with his glass memento at the pre-match reception by ex-Chelsea and England midfielder Dennis Wise (above right) and then again on the pitch at half time by Sir Geoff Hurst.
George, who was put forward for the national awards as a county winner, said: “I didn't need an award for something I enjoy doing, but the recognition has given me a feeling of immense pride.
“To receive any national award has got to be up there as one of the highest accolades I will achieve in my refereeing career.”
George, who was accompanied by his wife Abi and his parents, said of the day: “I thoroughly enjoyed it. They showed videos of all the award winners throughout the day and some of their stories were touching. The time, effort and passion these people put into grassroots football is phenomenal.”
The Mildenhall-based official is entering his 10th year as an official on the Bury & District Sunday League, after starting as a 17-year-old in 2009-10.
He is now a member of the league’s management committee as treasurer and mentors young referees and helps them take their first steps into adult football via the league.
George added: “I’d like to thank the committee and the teams of the Bury & District Sunday League for the support they've given me and to many other young referees making their first steps into the game.”
The Grassroots Football Awards, which are in their first year, recognise and celebrate the work of individuals and groups to instill The FA’s PRIDE values – Progressive, Respectful, Inclusive, Determined and Excellent – whilst making a positive difference in their club, league or local community.
Following receipt of over 2,900 nominations, The FA worked alongside respective County FAs to select winners in the local area. The list of regional recipients was then deliberated upon by a panel at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.
To watch a video about how George is trying to inspire the next generation of referee click here
To learn more about the Grassroots Football Awards, please visit TheFA.com and follow @FA