Sgt Darren Drysdale

All Military Team To Officiate Together On Remembrance Weekend

Royal Air Force Sergeant Darren Drysdale will take charge of the League One fixture between Cambridge United and Bolton Wanderers this Remembrance Weekend, ably supported by two British Army assistant referees, Corporal Declan O'Shea and Captain Steve Finch, with Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer Scott Jackson completing the all-military line up as the fourth official.

Remembrance Weekend provides football with an opportunity to honour the sacrifices made by service personnel, and this particular game holds an extra significance. It marks the first time that a tri-service team of match officials has been appointed together on a professional English Football League fixture. 

“I’m immensely proud to be taking to the field on Saturday flanked by my Armed Forces colleagues, on a fixture so close to Armistice Day – it’s such a poignant and unique occasion,” Sergeant Drysdale stated on appointment to the fixture.

“Match official teams on match day are very close-knit environments. Trust in what each other will do, commitment to the game plan and teamwork are the vital components of success on match day.

“Knowing that my colleagues on this particular fixture are not only fellow match officials but also members of HM Forces, solidifies the bond between us even more.” he added.

The four officials, who together have 98 years of combined military service, all reached the top levels of football officiating while balancing the needs of service life.  

Corporal O’Shea, who completed his referee course with the Royal Air Force whilst based in Cyprus with the British Army noted “We are all indebted to the Army, RAF and Royal Navy for the amount of support we have all received to allow us to reach the professional level on the football pyramid, whilst also being on rotations for deployments and operations”. 

Sergeant Drysdale, who has over 500 appearances officiating top-flight matches across nine professional English Football League and Football Association competitions captured the essence of what the weekend signifies:

“Having served my country during the Iraq conflict in 2003, I have some experience of the sacrifices service personnel make when serving in areas of conflict. I am, however, fortunate to have returned home safely which was not the case for many - and for this I am deeply humbled.

“More recent conflicts in Afghanistan have seen many service personnel pay the ultimate sacrifice and others return home with life-changing injuries. Remembrance Weekend is a true time of reflection.” he concluded.

Representatives from both clubs will each lay a poppy wreath on the edge of the centre circle prior to kick-off, with supporters invited to join together for a minute's silence, followed by the playing of the Last Post before the fixture gets underway at the Abbey Stadium in Cambridge at 1500 on Saturday.

Also see: Forces Sport

Sgt Darren Drysdale