FA Cup Final 2024 Harry Lennard

Harry Lennard officiates Emirates FA Cup Final

Sussex match official part of historic occasion

Last weekend saw Sussex match official Harry Lennard walk out at Wembley Stadium connected by EE, as an assistant referee in The Emirates FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Manchester City, with United coming out on top 2-1.

With over 25 years officiating experience under his belt, Lennard has been a regular fixture on the lines of Premier League games since 2012, along with picking up a number of other high-profile appointments along the way, such as the Carabao Cup Final in 2020 and the 2022 FA Community Shield.

Yet despite having already achieved so much in the game, for Lennard, it goes without saying that the call he got telling him he’d been appointed to the final is one he won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

“When it comes time to select the officials for the Final, you always hope that every year is going to be your year,” said Lennard, “so hearing those actual words was a bit of a shock, and it was only after I told my fiancé, family, and friends that it all started to sink in for me.

“That the families of referees at all levels sacrifice so much for us to do the job we love so there was a special bottle of champagne cracked open for sure!

“What made it all the more special was finding out that I was the first match official from Sussex to be part of officiating the game since Alan Gunn in 1990, so to follow in his footsteps and represent our county in the final was very humbling.”

In regard to the build-up and preparation ahead of the game, after a somewhat eventual season, the focus was very much on continuing to improve on routines and practices that have already served Lennard well.

“There was just under two weeks between the appointment and the game, with still one round of Premier League matches to go, so for me it was really important to use it as an opportunity to hone my eyes and processes for the final,” said Lennard.

“After that, the reality started to kick in and during that time I spoke to my sports therapist on several occasions discussing strategies for dealing with the aspects of the game and build up which would be different to ‘normal’ matches, and to treat them as extra jobs, but not to let them affect my core processes which have served me so well.

“As a team we also spoke with each other a couple of times to discuss information which our analyst team had put together which gave us a valuable insight into the tactical challenges we would face.”

The ‘team’ Lennard refers to is the officiating team of three; Andy Madley in the middle and Nick Hopton as his fellow assistant referee.

“The biggest thing about this appointment was that we had been appointed predominantly as a team of three,” said Lennard.

“Andy Madley, Nick Hopton, and I were bought together in January 2023 and have developed into a high performing team and most definitely got the best out of each other in that time.

“We’ve delivered games at a consistent level throughout the season and clearly made a compelling case to be selected for the final!”

Onto the day itself, and for Lennard and his team of officials, the game itself went as well as they could have hoped.

“For us, it’s been great that all the feedback that we have had has been positive,” said Lennard, “when you have three on field officials performing to their maximum capacity there is always a strong chance that the game will be delivered to the high standards we expect from ourselves.

“As a team we know that it could be any one of us making key decisions every game, and on Saturday I had a few in the first-half, but it doesn’t matter who makes them, what matters is the reputation of the refereeing team at the end of the game.

“We walked up the stairs to the Royal Box knowing we had delivered that game to the best of our ability as a team.”

Now that the dust has settled somewhat on the day itself, are there any particular moments that Lennard knows will live long in the memory?

“From a personal perspective, disallowing a goal in your one and only cup final will never leave me, but delivering the game as a team will be the abiding memory,” he said.

“But also, collecting our medals from two future Kings, waving to and seeing one of my sons in the crowd, as well as celebrating with each other and our partners after the game will stay with me forever.

“You can only referee (or run the line) on The FA Cup Final once, so it’s been a career’s work to have made it to that point.

“From the moment I passed the referee’s exam on 13 March 1997 my goal was to officiate in The FA Cup Final. All the highs and lows had led me to this point, and it was without doubt my favourite game and memory from my career!”

For further details on refereeing in Sussex please contact:

T: 01903 768573
E: Referees@sussexfa.com

Related News

View All