Angela Bennett Newsletter

Angela Bennett Interview

Words by Peter Lindsey

For this months Referees Newsletter, Chairperson of the Sussex County FA Referees Working Group, Peter Lindsey, spoke with trailblazing women's referee, Angela Bennett. 

Women's refereeing is more high profile than ever - highlighted by the first ever female referee in the Qatar FIFA World Cup.

We also have a high-profile female referee in Sussex - Lisa Benn, who earned her place on the FIFA list last season.

But roll back 33 years when Angela Bennett qualified in Eastbourne, football was in a very different place.

Angela became a referee in 1990 and still officiates on average four or five games a week.

And the retired postwoman absolutely loves it.

"I lived in Eastbourne when I was persuaded by Simon Barrett - then chairman of the Eastbourne RA - to become a referee," said Bennett.

"And quite honestly, I've never looked back, and to be honest it has become an extremely important part of my life.

"Yes, there have been challenges and controversies, but that is, and always will be part of the game we love so much."

Before refereeing, Angela was a keen player, representing Pevensey and then Shoreham.

She recalls: "I used to referee men's football on a Saturday and then played on a Sunday.

"The highlight was being promoted to Class One - now 5a - which I was really pleased with.

"I was proud to referee in the Sussex County League and the Mid Sussex League.

"I was privileged to referee two Mid Sussex finals. They were two of the highlights of my career.

"Another highlight was appearing on Sky TV as Lineswoman for a Ladies League Cup final at Barnet FC. Amy Rayner was the referee. I can remember my legs shaking as we went onto the pitch.

"Another highlight was being named Best Referee at the USA Cup in 2006."

Angela estimates that she has shown around 20 red cards in total, but she never stands for nonsense.

"I can remember refereeing a ladies game between Charlton and Brighton. I sent off the Charlton manager and cautioned every one of their substitutes as well - all for dissent.

"But overall, I believe that I have been treated with respect. It is great to see more female referees and of course it would be great to see more, many more.

"As female football has expanded, it would have been nice to see the number of women's referees in Sussex go up as well."

Angela retired from work last year, which means she is able to take control of schools and colleges midweek.

Most weekends she can be found officiating at the Brighton & Hove Albion Training Ground in Lancing, and in the Sussex County Women's and Girls League.

She was also Referees Secretary for the Sussex County Women's Football League and South East Counties League.

"I want to keep going all the time, I feel I am fit enough and able to keep up with the demands of the game.

"I still meet some lovely football people who remember me from refereeing their games back in the 1990s. We always share a smile.

"Refereeing is great for me, and I always urge people to take the course and pick up the whistle."