Football League linesman promoted to Premier League list

By Alex Byrom
Referees Editor



Harry Lennard (pictured) officiated at the League One Play-Off Final between Huddersfield and Sheffield United in May at Wembley


A Brighton and Hove Albion police officer has been promoted to officiate as an assistant referee at Premier League football matches next season.

29-year old Police Constable Harry Lennard who works for the Brighton and Hove Response Investigation Team, found out earlier this month – from the PGMOL (Professional Group Match Officials) – that he has been promoted to the 2012/13 Select Group of Assistant Referees, which makes him one of 32 top assistants in the country.

PC Lennard, who was one of the Assistants to cover a play-off Final, said: “I'm absolutely over the moon about my promotion to the Premier League; I still don't think it has really sunk in.

“I've been passionate about football from a very young age and started refereeing in 1997, working my way up through youth and local football before officiating non-league football on various feeder leagues. In April 2007 I was promoted onto the Football League (National) Assistants list which means being a linesman on the Championship, League One and League Two until now,” he added.

“Having realised that there was a huge opportunity to progress up the leagues as a referee/assistant referee, I made the decision to focus on that rather than play football and of course it works around my job as a police officer. Also, the higher up the leagues you go the bigger the crowds get so the buzz you get from a noisy crowd increases. That's one of the really enjoyable parts of the job, being involved on the pitch creating the atmosphere!”

PC Lennard moved from Surrey to Sussex in 2006 to pursue a career with Sussex Police and feels many of the day-to-day skills he uses as an officer is useful on the pitch. This season he was one of the Assistant referees at the Npower football League play-off finals - Huddersfield and Sheffield United at Wembley - joins 31 other assistants at the top of the ladder.  

“I like to be outside and keeping fit is essential to my performance on and off the pitch as a busy police officer. In both jobs you have to remain calm under pressure and stay focussed on the job in hand. Obviously with the football there is the added pressure of thousands of fans and millions of people watching replays on television and scrutinising your decision making.”

Balancing the demands of policing and refereeing is no easy task. Brighton and Hove Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett said: “I am so proud of Harry – it is such an achievement and to have done all this on top of his very demanding day job, it's truly incredible.”

PC Lennard added: “Throughout my refereeing career I've had some great advice from various people who have helped me get to the level I am now. Over the last couple of years a colleague and friend of mine called Peter Kirkup, who is currently out at Euro 2012 acting as an assistant referee, has helped me develop the skills to be considered to be on the Select List. Being a top class assistant is a totally different skill set to being a top class referee, as an assistant you can become over involved very easily.”

“Football at all levels has got a lot faster over the years and television coverage has increased as well; the result of this has been heightened media coverage of all aspects of the game. From on-field performances to social media, players, clubs and match officials are all under the spotlight so it's an extremely intense environment to be in! Likewise, policing has also changed over the years with the rise of social media and how it is used to engage with people but also used as a way to scrutinise our work too.”

“My friends and family are all very pleased for me but sometimes complain that they never see me that much – but hopefully now they'll be seeing me more, albeit on the telly.

“I've already started an intense training programme for our pre-season fitness tests and then the ‘friendlies’ start for the beginning of the season on 18th August!”


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