Hastings’ Carl Brook, has achieved the illustrious dream of promotion to the English Football League (EFL) as a referee!
Carl can look back on an already proud 29-year career as a referee. After promotion from the County Leagues, he thought he had cracked it, but now as he heads into his 30th year, the dream he once had as a 14-year-old has been achieved – he’s an EFL referee.
It began for Carl after taking the refereeing exam with his dad, he says: “I had ambitions of wanting to officiate at Wembley, I wasn’t quite good enough to play there so saw that as the next best thing!”
For Carl it was about wanting to be the best at something and the passion he had early on helped him on his way: “I officiated a lot of kids’ football which is where it started and I lined my first County League game at 17.
“You always set yourself goals and for me back then it was always to be a Football League referee. I had been fortunate to run the line on the Football League for six seasons, but my ultimate goal was to be a Football League referee, the man in charge, the man who walks out with the ball.
“You always have that drive to want to be a Football League referee and as much as I am 44 years old, I don’t feel it! I just kept on pushing and pushing and once I made it to a Level 3 referee you realise you’ve made that first big step.
“I enjoyed being a County League referee, but when you make that step from Level 4 to Level 3 you just realise, you have made a big step in the world of football.”
Gaining promotion from the County Leagues and becoming a Level 3 referee might have been a huge step but what was the first shining moment for him?
“You start refereeing FA Cup games and games with larger crowds and you think, ‘I might be pretty good at this!’
“My drive is to be the best I can be. I don’t like doing things half-heartedly, everything I do I want to win, so as a referee I want to be the best I can be.”
The ambition to eventually get to the EFL never died for Carl and this promotion means everything to him: “It’s massive, it’s absolutely huge. Looking back to that 14-year-old who wanted to be a Football League referee and now I am… the privilege of walking out there when the season starts, I know I can do that.
“I always referee with a smile on my face anyway, but I know I can walk out there and think this is what 30 years has been building up to so wow, what a privilege that is going to be.”
What’s his advice for other aspiring referees in Sussex: “Never give up, even when it doesn’t go quite to plan. The rewards are there for you if you put the effort in and you can obtain anything you want.
“I think that’s a true reflection of me, the rewards might not come straight away but here I am going into my 30th season and I am achieving my ultimate goal.”