This week we caught up with Sussex-based match official Harry Lennard who has been appointed as assistant referee for this Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final between Aston Villa and Manchester City.
Harry has a wealth of experience having started refereeing in 1997, he worked his way up the ladder to become a regular official on the Premier League in 2012. He also officiates on many European Qualifiers, this season assisting a Europa League Qualifier between Aris Thessaloniki and AEL Limassol in Greece
This, however, will be Lennard’s first-time as an official on a major domestic cup final and the man from East Sussex, cannot wait: “I first ran the line at Wembley the year I got promoted to the Select Group on the League One Play-Off Final in 2012. Then I did the FA Trophy in 2013 and an FA Cup Semi-Final in 2014, as well as a few Tottenham games when they played there.
“I’ve done all the 5th Officials on the four major finals so I’m delighted to finally be appointed on one as one of the assistants.”
Harry found out about his appointment in rather tranquil circumstances: “This year because of the winter break I managed to get away for a week with my better half, so when Alan Wiley called, I was sat on the beach in the Maldives!”
Humbled by his appointment Harry spoke of the hope he had of one day receiving such an appointment: “I think for everyone who hasn’t been appointed to a major final you hold an internal hope that it could be your year. But there are so many variables which can help or hinder your cause such as which referee will be on the game, will he have a certain team of officials with him, and then some people are even ruled out because of allegiances to certain clubs.
“So, there is always a hope, but nobody has a god given right to be appointed to any game let alone a final, so, until you get the call you convince yourself it isn’t you and that nothing is certain!”
Despite reaching the heights of the game, the big appointments remind Lennard of the refereeing journey he’s been on: “When things like this happen, I always think back to the early days and the leagues where I started out and the people who helped me along the way. I’ll never get bored of reminding any referee that with the right attitude and application anyone can all progress to levels which they never thought were possible.”
Looking ahead to cup final day, Harry said: “Match-day and the preparation are all a little bit different because you have to sort out guest tickets and your partner gets to come so it’s all a bit different in the build-up but then nothing changes when the whistle blows.
“Once the game kicks-off I’ll lose myself with the systems and processes that have served me well since I started doing things a bit differently at the start of the season. Obviously, we now have VAR which can help us out and we’ve all been working with it for some time, but ultimately all of us are focused on delivering an effective team performance.”
Despite his previous appearances at Wembley, the feeling of a walking out at a major cup final is what excites him: “This will be my first major domestic honour as an assistant (the others being The FA Community Shield, The FA Cup and Championship Play-Off Final), so to be chosen out of all of my colleagues is a huge honour.
“As I mentioned before, nobody has a god given right to officiate in any final and just because I’ve done over 200 games on the Premier League doesn’t mean that I automatically get the chance.
“Not everyone will do every final so the thought of doing this one is palpable and one that I will remember forever!”
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