RUGBY TOWN: Youngest FA Cup official?

Andy Iland with Gordon Strachan
Andy Iland with Gordon Strachan
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Andy, 16, steps in to run line when ref is injured in warm-up

Budding young football referee and coach Andy Iland got the chance of a lifetime last Saturday at Butlin Road, when he stepped in to run the line for Rugby Town’s FA Cup tie against Norton, writes Jon Venner.

With scheduled match referee Tommy Hollinge injuring himself in the pre-match warm-up, a volunteer was required and Andy – a student on the Strachan Football Foundation and also a qualified official – was on-hand to take up a place as assistant referee for the day.

At just 16 years and 297 days, it is believed that he may be the youngest ever official to be involved in an FA Cup game.

Andy’s father Mike – also a qualified referee – explained: “I have written to the F.A. seeking confirmation, but it is highly possible that Andy is the youngest ever to fulfil that role.

“To be selected for an FA Cup game, you normally need to be a Level 4 official and it takes a minimum of six years to reach that point from originally qualifying at fourteen years old.”

Andy is a regular supporter of the team, and is currently working towards a BTEC in Sport with the Strachan Foundation at Kilsby Lane. He is also coaching a couple of Rugby Town JFC teams, having previously played for the junior section too.