Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Referee, 83, to keep on whistling

Harry Hardy
Mr Hardy says he has no time for the attitude of some footballers

One of England's oldest referees has said he has no plans to retire after more than 50 years in the role.

Harry Hardy, 83, from Derbyshire, first took charge of a game in 1957 and still officiates at Long Eaton Sunday League football matches.

Despite admitting the game is now played at a much faster pace, he insisted decades riding a bicycle meant he was fit enough to keep up.

The FA said it did not record ages but thanked Mr Hardy for his dedication.

Mr Hardy, from Ilkeston, started refereeing when he was working for the Raleigh bicycle company in Nottingham.

No nonsense

He said he still felt physically capable of the work: "If you can keep running, you're OK.

"If your eyes go you have glasses, so that is alright - mind you, they still think you are blind!"

But he added that he had no time for modern players' attitude.

Harry's story really captures the spirit of grassroots football in this country
FA spokesperson

"The point is you haven't got time to listen to them.

"I always tell them when they ask: 'What was that for ref?', I say 'I ain't got time to tell you kid'.

"We have only got 90 minutes, and if I stop to tell them everything I blow for we would never finish."

Keith Compton of the Derbyshire FA said Mr Hardy was given a long-service award several years ago at a match at Derby County's Pride Park ground.

"I don't know if he is the oldest referee in the country but he is definitely the oldest on our books," Mr Compton said.

An FA spokesperson commented: "Harry's story really captures the spirit of grassroots football in this country and just goes to show that refereeing can be enjoyed by everyone.

"The FA are looking to recruit 8,000 new referees by 2012 and it's people like Harry that inspire a whole new generation of grassroots match officials."

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An 83-year-old referee says he is not ready to hang up his whistle yet.



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