Referee Mick reaches his goal

SOCCER: The untimely death of Suffolk referee Carl Finch spurred Mick Thorpe on to reach the Nationwide League middle. The 32-year-old from Martlesham was promoted this week to the 70-strong National List of Referees.

By Elvin King

THE untimely death of Suffolk referee Carl Finch spurred Mick Thorpe on to reach the Nationwide League middle.

The 32-year-old from Martlesham was promoted this week to the 70-strong National List of Referees.

From next season the treasury manager for Suffolk Coastal Council will take charge of Nationwide League games, and distance will be no object.

"It could be Carlisle or Cambridge United," he said today. "Suffolk has not had a referee in the Football League since Carl – and it was a void I have wanted to fill.

"Not just to give Suffolk referees a boost but also to honour Carl, who managed just one season in the middle before he was struck down with cancer."

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Finch, from Elmswell, progressed through the same channels as Thorpe and will now relinquish his duties with the Conference and the Jewson League.

He has been running the line in the Football League since 1995, but from this summer he will solely referee.

"This is what I have aimed for since sitting my exam when I was 18," added Thorpe, who still played on Saturdays for a period while cutting his teeth as a referee on Sundays.

"I realised I had potential so decided to concentrate on refereeing. I was selected for an interview this winter along with 11 others. There were eight places available, and I was fortunate to receive one.

"Now my aim must be to join the 24 officials on the National List who are registered with the Premiership."

Five Football League referees are retiring at the end of this season and one is resigning. Two extra places are being allocated for 2002-03, and Thorpe expects to take charge of around four matches a month.

He has regularly run the line at places like QPR and Crystal Palace and has refereed Dagenham and Redbridge three times in the Conference this term.

"I have had good marks for the last couple of seasons and the authorities look for consistency," added Thorpe, whose tutor 14 years ago was current Suffolk FA chairman George Whight.

Thorpe has no match tomorrow in a relatively low-key end to his season. He has a Colchester second team game to come plus Farnborough against Leigh RMI in the Conference.

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