Tanner’s joy at landing his big Wembley appointment

STEVE Tanner has spoken of his delight after being named as the referee for tomorrow’s League One play-off final – describing it as a “prestigious appointment”.

Suffolk FA’s referee development officer will be the man in the middle when Peterborough United take on Huddersfield at Old Trafford for a place in next season’s Championship.

And the good news continued for Suffolk with Simon Long announced as an assistant referee for Monday’s Championship play-off final between Reading and Swansea.

Tanner said he was delighted to have been chosen and paid tribute to his colleagues, having moved to the county football association at the end of January.

“It is every match official’s dream and ambition to receive a major appointment,” said Tanner. “It is an honour to receive such a prestigious appointment and I am looking forward to what should be a fantastic occasion.”

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The appointment caps a perfect end to Tanner’s first season at Suffolk FA after he took over the role vacated when Phil Knight became chief executive of the organisation.

Tanner said: “The thing that has stood out for me is how committed and dedicated everyone at Suffolk FA is to football. Our refereeing academy, for instance, is something the rest of the country aims for.”

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Tanner spent four years running the line in the Football League before becoming a referee and then being promoted to the Premier League list.

His highlights include officiating in the San Siro, Milan, and Real Madrid’s Bernab�u as well as refereeing a FA Trophy final at Villa Park and acting as the fourth official for the Swansea against Barnsley League One play-off final at Wembley in 2006.

He explained: “Being in the Premier League is the ultimate goal for any referee but it was never a particular goal of mine. I actually only started refereeing as a favour to some parents when I was 14.

“I never had any set ambitions, I just thought I would devote more time to refereeing and thankfully it has been very kind to me.”

While not wanting to showcase himself as a role model, referees in the county, young and old, have never had such a wealth of experience to call upon through the likes of Tanner and Suffolk FA chief executive Phil Knight.

At a time when the county is inundated with people applying to take courses, Tanner said: “My role focuses on development and not just for those up-and-coming referees.

“I hope, along with our fantastic workforce of mentors, assessors and coaches, to be able to give some of my experience to help take these guys to the next level, whatever that might be.”

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