Up-and-coming Clitheroe ref takes charge of amputee cup final at St George's Park
A 19-year-old Whalley referee has officiated one of the biggest games of his career after taking charge of the FA Disability Cup Amputee Final at St George's Park, confirming his place amongst the North West's most promising refs.
A former St Augustine's student, Burnley-born Oli Robinson was entrusted with the whistle for the final as Peterborough United Amputees beat Everton 3-2 in a repeat of last year's bout as he continued his rise having acted as fourth official for the final 12 months ago.
A keen advocate of amputee football, Oli regularly officiates disability football and has also previously worked on the North West Counties scene having initially developed his interest in refereeing whilst completing a Duke of Edinburgh officiating course as a 14-year-old.
"It was a good game; we knew it was going to be even because of the nature of the teams," said Oli, who lives in Whalley and works at the 3M Clitheroe manufacturing plant. "They're both massive clubs in amputee football and I really enjoyed it.
"We have two referees in amputee football - one in each half - so it's a completely different way of refereeing and I'd gone up two steps to be first official," he explained. "But it went really well. I really want to promote amputee football in the local area."
With ambitions to referee international amputee football in the future, Oli has seen his stock rise over the past year, going as far as to act as linesman for an able-bodied professional friendly game behind closed doors earlier in the summer in what he called an 'amazing experience' as he got to work with League 2-standard referees.
"This year I have been trying to work on my overall game and working closely with the Chief Referee for the World Amputee Football Federation, Ian Clarke, in Liverpool," Oli said of his development as as official. "He's been helping me all year and I've been refereeing alongside him; he was third official for the [amputee] final.
"They put their trust in us to referee high calibre games and for me to be on Ian's wavelength in terms of refereeing has been quite an achievement for me," he added. "My ambition with the amputees is to referee internationally."
As well as a blossoming refereeing pedigree, Oli also has a familial background in football, with his Clitheroe-based grandfather, Brian Wearing, boasting a professional career with Kilmarnock, Queen of the South, Annan Athletic, and Gretna in Scotland.
And having donned the whistle 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 - little fazes the man in the middle.
"I'd love to go to the World Cup or the Euros, that would be incredible," said Oli, for whom the 2018 World Amputee Football Federation World Cup in Mexico later this year may be one tournament too soon.
"I'll have the chance to get a taste of that in September in Warsaw, Poland at a warm-up tournament for the World Cup in Mexico, though," he added. "It will be streamed online and on Polish TV so for people to watch that would be amazing."