Ernie Broughton: The Legendary Lincolnshire Referee
An inspirational 83-year-old Lincolnshire football referee hailed as a "local legend" has no plans to hang up his whistle just yet, despite being one of the country’s oldest referees. Ernie Broughton, of North Hykeham, says he will keep officiating the sport he loves until he can no longer leave the centre circle.
He is a well-known figure in Lincolnshire grassroots football and continues to win awards coming into his 50th year of refereeing.
The very first match that he officiated was between Billinghay Athletic Reserves and Wragby in September 1973 where he was paid a £1 match fee with 50p for expenses.
He has never progressed higher than grassroots level due to his age, but Ernie has always loved doing what he does and has been described as a "stalwart of football".
He was awarded as Lincolnshire FA’s Grassroots Official of the Year 2022 and was also awarded in 2019 by Lincolnshire FA for Contribution to Refereeing. While some may find running around a football pitch on a cold Sunday morning an arduous task, for Ernie it is just as enjoyable and rewarding now as it was when he first started.
So, what motivates Ernie to get up early each weekend, put on his black jersey and turn out in all weather?
"It's enjoyment," says Ernie. "I love the football. There have been some fantastic matches over my 50 years. I have thoroughly enjoyed what I do."
Although the thought of calling it a day has crossed his mind, a heart-warming moment after a recent match left him more determined than ever to keep on going. Ernie added: "I was thinking about packing up this year, but after a game last week, two spectators came running over to me to say thank you and wanted to shake my hand. I then thought there's no way I'm packing this up.”
"You have a lot of laughs and a lot of people really appreciate what you do. I will miss it. I wonder what the hell I'm going to do on a Sunday morning when I stop. I've always said if I have to stand in the middle of the pitch to referee a match then I'm packing it in."
Referee Development Manager at Lincolnshire FA, Michael Brader, said: "This year Ernie will have been refereeing for 50 years. It's an amazing contribution to football and refereeing. He always does it with a smile on his face and has never given any of us any issues at all.”
"He's an absolute stalwart of football and his enthusiasm rubs off on the players and especially the junior players that he now referees. He's a local legend."
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