FA Premier League official Jon Moss was the guest of honour. The 2015 FA Cup Final Referee provided excellent company throughout the day supporting and tutoring approximately 50 Army officials at the training and development camp which included a healthy crop of those recently recruited from basic courses in Aldershot, Catterick and Grantham.
There is no doubt that Army referee remains in a healthy condition, a view endorsed by Chairman Major Pete Conn who provided a summary of success stories in his evening speech. Indeed it was fitting that, on the annual Army Referees day, volunteer Referees Chief Instructor WO2 (QMSI) Andy Halliday (RAPTC) was appointed as Assistant Referee at next months Emirates FA Cup Final at Wembley between Crystal Palace and Manchester United.
The two main annual awards for Army Referees are the Dobsons and Le Breton Trophies. The Dobsons , donated by former Army FA Secretary Major Alan Dobson on his retirement in 1988, is awarded to the Referee considered by the members of the Army FA Referees' Committee to have made the most significant contribution to Army football during the season. The Le Breton, donated by Referees' Secretary of 21 years until his departure in 2007, Brian Le Breton, is awarded to a Level 7 Referee who has shown the most potential and commitment during the season.
UK Sp Comd South provided both recipients. Sgt Craig Davenport (RLC) was successful in winning the Dobsons Trophy.
Craig started refereeing during the 2011/12 season, gaining promotion to level 7 in 2012. During the 2012/13 season, his commitment and talent were recognised and rewarded; Wiltshire FA appointed Craig to referee a County Cup Final, whilst the Army FA appointed him Assistant Referee – Navy v RAF U23 fixture. Promoted to Level 5 within the 2013/14 season and Level 4 within the 2014/15 season, Craig has enjoyed a wide range of high profile appointments, both in his civilian and Army Football including Major Unit finals. In 2015, Craig was selected and appointed to join the Royal Logistic Corps FA committee. During the 2015/16 season, his highlights have included appointment as Assistant Referee at Hereford, with approximately 3000 fans, refereeing on the Football League Youth Development League and numerous appointments on the FA Contributory Leagues. During the five years, his support and contribution to both Army and civilian football has been outstanding. Although Craig has only been refereeing for 5 years it is his wider contribution, self-motivation, dedication and commitment which placed him above other deserving referees across the wider UK South and set him apart from the remaining nominations.
Le Breton Trophy recipient Cpl Si Thorburn (Royal Signals) qualified as a level 7 referee in November 2014 and stood out for all the right reasons since qualifying. His commitment and outstanding support to Army Football (Referee and Assistant), his local civilian leagues; Bedfordshire County Football League, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire County Women Football League, his additional responsibilities of UK Sp Comd South appointments secretary and more recent selection to join the Army’s Referee Academy set him apart from his peer group and make him deserving of the Le Breton Trophy.
Si’s passion, dedication, self-motivation and positive attitude helped ensure completion of over 50 fixtures already this season. Refereeing highlights this season have included Army Super Cup Final (Glasgow), Women Corps League and the ‘Edwards’ Cup semi-finals, Army Women v QPR Ladies, Massey Trophy, Woolwich Cup, selection as AR in both Army U23 and Southern Counties Final (however, both fixtures were cancelled), Bedfordshire County Cup semi-finals and finally Luton Town U18 fixture. This is an excellent contribution to both Army and civilian football.
Si has made considerable personal progress this season; having applied for promotion to Level 6, he has successfully met the criteria and has been promoted. His potential and talent have been recognised and his selection to join the Army Referees’ Academy demonstrates the outstanding personal progress made by Simon this season.
Both successful candidates received their trophies from Jon Moss.
Army Referee caps were also awarded to Major Pete Conn (RE), Major Gary Burton (REME), WO2 (SQMS) Stu Jack (RLC), WO1 Mark Hounsell (RLC) and LCpl Dec O'Shea (REME) whilst caps will be provided in due course to WO2 Stacey Woodley (REME) and Cpl Colin Allan (PARA) who were not in attendance.