Sussex referee, Carl Brook, has achieved the illustrious dream of promotion to the English Football League (EFL) as a referee.
Carl can look back on an already proud 29-year career as a referee where upon promotion from the County Leagues, he thought he had cracked it. But now as he heads into his thirtieth year, the dream he once had as a 14-year old, has been achieved, as he speaks to us as an EFL referee.
It begun for Carl as a 14-year old and after taking the exam with his Dad, he tells us of his initial dream he had: “I had ambitions of wanting to officiate at Wembley, I wasn’t quite good enough to play there so saw that as the next best thing!”
The passion for Carl came just by wanting to be the best at something and it’s the sheer passion he had early on that has helped him on his way: “I officiated a lot of kids football which is where it started, and I lined my first County League game at 17 and I’m now about to embark on my thirtieth year.
“You always set yourself goals and for me back then it was always to be a Football League referee. I had been fortunate to run the line on the Football League for six seasons, but my ultimate goal was to be a Football League referee, the man in charge, the man who walks out with the ball.
“You always have that drive to want to be a Football League referee and as much as I am 44 years old, I don’t feel it! I just kept on pushing and pushing and once I made it to a Level 3 referee you realise you’ve made that first big step.
“I enjoyed being a County League referee, but when you make that step from Level 4 to Level 3 you just realise, you have made a big step in the world of football.”
To gain promotion from the County Leagues and become a Level 3 referee as he said was huge, but what was the first shining moment for him?
“You start refereeing FA Cup games and games with larger crowds that and you think: ‘Do you know what? I might be pretty good at this!’
“My drive is to be the best I can be. I don’t like doing things half-heartedly, everything I do I want to win, so as a referee I want to be the best I can be.”
After many games refereeing in the National League, the ambition to eventually get to the EFL never died for Carl and this promotion means everything to him:
“It’s massive, it’s absolutely huge. Looking back to a 14-year-old that wanted to be a Football League referee and now I am, that privilege to walk out there when the season starts, I know I can do that.”
“I always referee with a smile on my face anyway, but I know I can walk out there and think this is what 30 years has been building up to so wow, what a privilege that is going to be.”
We finish up talking to Carl and after a highly reminiscent conversation, the thought of stepping out as an EFL referee in a few weeks’ time continues to excite him.
He finally added with some valuable advice for other aspiring referees in Sussex: “Never give up, even when it doesn’t go quite to plan. The rewards are there for you if you put the effort in and you can obtain anything you want.
“I think that’s a true reflection of me, the rewards might not come straight away but here I am going into my thirtieth season and I am achieving my ultimate goal.”
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