A Brighton and Hove police officer has won promotion to the Premier League – and in keeping with football parlance he’s “over the moon”.
PC Harry Lennard is joining the Select Group of Assistant Referees which makes him one of 32 top assistants in the country.
He officiates in his spare time when he’s not working for the Brighton and Hove Response Investigation Team, having joined Sussex Police from Surrey in 2006.
PC Lennard said: “I’m absolutely over the moon about my promotion to the Premier League. I still don’t think it has really sunk in.
“I’ve been passionate about football from a very young age and started refereeing in 1997, working my way up through youth and local football before officiating non-league football on various feeder leagues.
“In April 2007 I was promoted on to the Football League assistants list which means being a linesman on the Championship, League One and League Two until my promotion to the Premiership.
“Having realised that there was a huge opportunity to progress up the leagues as a referee/assistant referee, I made the decision to focus on that rather than play football and of course it works around my job as a police officer.
“Also, the higher up the leagues you go the bigger the crowds get so the buzz you get from a noisy crowd increases.
“That’s one of the really enjoyable parts of the job, being involved on the pitch, creating the atmosphere.”
PC Lennard said that many of the day-to-day skills he uses as a police officer are useful on the pitch.
He said: “I like to be outside and keeping fit is essential to my performance on and off the pitch as a busy police officer.
“In both jobs you have to remain calm under pressure and stay focused on the job in hand.
“Obviously with the football there is the added pressure of thousands of fans and millions of people watching replays on television and scrutinising your decision making.
Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett, the Brighton and Hove divisional commander, said: “I am so proud of Harry. It is such an achievement. And to have done all this on top of his very demanding day job, it’s truly incredible.”
PC Lennard said: “Throughout my refereeing career I’ve had some great advice from various people who have helped me get to the level I am now.
“Over the last couple of years a colleague and friend of mine called Peter Kirkup, who is currently out at Euro 2012 acting as an assistant referee, has helped me develop the skills to be considered to be on the Select List.
“Being a top class assistant is a totally different skill set to being a top class referee. As an assistant you can become over-involved very easily.
“One piece of advice I was given by a referee was: ‘See everything but not too much!’
“For me when a referee is having a good game, you don’t know that they are even on the pitch.
“The better ones come in and out of the game when they are required and generally let games flow so that people can watch entertaining football.
“The Premier League and Football League are great examples of this.
“Football at all levels has got a lot faster over the years and television coverage has increased as well.
“The result of this has been heightened media coverage of all aspects of the game.
“From on-field performances to social media, players, clubs and match officials are all under the spotlight so it’s an extremely intense environment to be in.
“Likewise, policing has also changed over the years with the rise of social media and how it is used to engage with people but also used as a way to scrutinise our work too.
“My friends and family are all very pleased for me but sometimes complain that they never see me that much. Hopefully now they’ll be seeing me more, albeit on the telly.”
He added: “I’ve already started an intense training programme for our pre-season fitness tests and then the friendlies start for the beginning of the season on 18 August.”
To find out how to become a referee, click here.
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