iCanRef: Martin Atkinson
Tell us about how you got involved in refereeing?
I started refereeing at 15 years old when it was quite clear I was never going to make it as a footballer! I completed my referee course at Elland Road and then I started refereeing in the Heavy Woollen District.
How does it feel to call yourself a Premier League Referee?
I’m very proud to be a referee, and to work on the Premier League is a great honour. We have a strong group of officials and to be part of that is fantastic.
What do you enjoy about refereeing?
The feeling of walking out with the match ball in charge of any game is still a great feeling for me. I’m very proud of being able to referee at the level that I do, and all the work during the week pays off. The feeling of delivering a game successfully can’t really be explained and to have that opportunity on the Premier League is fantastic.
What are your greatest achievements in refereeing and why?
To be able to have refereed on the Premier League for 15 years is obviously something that I am very proud of. I’m approaching nearly 400 games on the Premier League and long may that continue. I was lucky enough to represent my country at UEFA Euro 2016, and to referee the Europa League Final in 2015. Domestically the obvious appointment is the FA Cup Final In 2011, along with the League Cup Final, The Championship Play Off Final and two Community Shields. My time on UEFA I were very fortunate to officiate in some wonderful stadiums and games over the years, and I think one highlight has to be the Champions League Semi-Final, Real Madrid v Athletico Madrid. Ronaldo scored a hat-trick that evening in Madrid.
What is your best memory of refereeing?
I think the feeling after The FA Cup Final at Wembley was the happiest moment, being able to look up into the stand and see my family there to share the occasion with is something that will always be special to me.
What are your goals in the sport?
I think when I lose the desire to keep improving, keep working and pushing myself will be the time to stop refereeing. The Select Group is competitive and whilst I am still pushing myself, still staying healthy and performing to my best I’d love to continue. I’d love to stay involved in refereeing and help the next generation of referees when I eventually hang up the whistle.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced in football?
I think something I learnt early in my career was not to worry about what others were doing. All referees are competitive and want to get better and I have had a few situations when I haven’t had the promotions I was hoping for. This made me even more determined to progress.
Who’s had the biggest influence in your refereeing career and why?
There’s a number of people who have influenced my career over the years. The early years I had support as a young referee from my parents and the referees in the HWRA (where I’m still a member). As I progressed into professional football then Alan Kaye played a massive part in my development. He was always there for me, pushing me, offering advice and support and even now I have so much respect for the advice he offers me. I think during all referees careers there are stages where people play a part. Trevor Simpson, Mike Riley, Howard Webb all come to mind as playing a role in my development.
What advice would you give to people wishing to get involved in refereeing?
Give it a try! I hope from my answers that people will get the feel that refereeing is a great career or hobby. The feeling of being involved in football at any level has a sense of fulfilment and reward.