The ‘magic’ of the FA Cup for U9’s Coach Justin

The ‘magic’ of the FA Cup was certainly alive in this third round qualifying tie replay with Stratford Town at home to Scarborough AFC

I was there as coach of Stratford Town’s U9’s who were official mascots for the match and an end to end match went into ET.

In the 100th minute, the ref went down injured and a call went out over the tannoy for any official that may be in the crowd to step in and ensure the match could be finished. Under immediate pressure from our 8yr old son, Arlen and a fellow parent, I took the plunge in front of 500 spectators with over £7k awaiting the winners.

I had ‘retired’ from grassroots refereeing at the end of 2015/16 season to coach my team and not picked up a whistle/flag since. I was briefed quickly by the ‘new’ ref and it was only when I got my flag in hand, I realised the task at hand!

Scarborough fans chanting I would be biased, Stratford fans asking me to do them a ‘favour’. I was nervous, excited, proud but overall, did not want to create further controversy and give a ‘dodgy’ decision. I ended giving 4 throw ins and kept my flag down for Scarborough’s 4th goal – phew ! However tense the game was – it was 1-1 when I came on – I would do it again and keep our spirit of grassroots alive.

It was an honour to be involved (shame we lost, though !)

Justin Keaney

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