From refereeing Joey Essex at Turf Moor, to the FA Disability Cup Final at St George’s Park, one of Burnley’s most promising referees has certainty not had a quiet start to his career.
But for former St Augustine’s pupil, Oli Robinson (18), his four-year journey from doing the Duke of Edinburgh refereeing course as a 14-year-old to officiating at the National Football Centre has been a deeply fulfilling one.
A regular on the North West Counties scene where he referees the likes of Padiham, Barnoldswick Town, and Nelson, the Whalley resident was third official in the FA Disability Cup Final between Everton and Peterborough United on May 6th: something of a step up from his first game reffing U9s football in Haslingden.
“They’re two really well-run football clubs and two of the biggest in disabled football,” said Oli. “I work with inspirational people who’ve lost their legs due to road incidents, cancer, being at war; it makes you want to get involved. It’s fantastic.”
After winning ‘Referee of the Year’ for East Lancashire in his first year, Oli went on to officiate at the charity Soccer Six Celebrity Football Tournament at Turf Moor in 2015, keeping the likes of Joey Essex, Jai McDowell, Rudimental, and Game of Thrones actress, Kerry Ingram, in line in front of a crowd of 6,000.
“I do it week-in, week-out; it’s tough,” said Oli of his work. “There’s a lot at stake, there’s a club in the North West Counties league with 1,200 season ticket holders - massive.”
Well supported by his family and friends, Oli’s father Chris and grandfather Brian Wearing - who himself was a professional footballer with Kilmarnock, Queen of the South, Annan Athletic, and Gretna in Scotland - are often seen in the stands watching him.
And with Oli aiming for the Premier League, that is certainly one thing that does not look like changing.