Four Armed Forces personnel will take charge of the League One fixture between Cambridge United and Bolton Wanderers on Remembrance Weekend.

For the first time, the Royal Air Force, British Army and Royal Navy will all be represented during the match at the Abbey Stadium on Saturday.

The RAF's Sergeant Darren Drysdale will be the referee, ably supported by his two assistant referees - the Army's Corporal Declan O'Shea and Captain Steve Finch. 

The Royal Navy's Chief Petty Officer Scott Jackson will be the fourth official, completing the all-military team. 

The fixture will provide an opportunity to honour the sacrifices made by servicemen and women with a pre-match tribute ahead of kick-off. Representatives from both clubs will lay a poppy wreath on the edge of the centre circle where supporters will then be invited to join together for a minute's silence, followed by the playing of the Last Post by a local bugler.

Drysdale said: “Having served my country during the Iraq conflict in 2003, I have some experience of the sacrifices service personnel make when serving in areas of conflict. I am, however, fortunate to have returned home safely which was not the case for many - and for this I am deeply humbled. More recent conflicts in Afghanistan have seen many service personnel pay the ultimate sacrifice and others return home with life-changing injuries. Remembrance Weekend is a true time of reflection.”

He added: “The camaraderie within a team of match officials is akin to that which is shared in the Armed Forces. The closeness of a team and the shared end target in being the best you can be correlates to both environments.”

Finch commented: “The silence before the game really shows the togetherness of everyone, showing respect and dignity to those that have fallen in past conflicts. Hearing The Last Post being played is always a moving moment and to be hearing it this year stood alongside three other serving colleagues will make that even more special.

“The values and standards of the Military are similar to those that are upheld by PGMOL. We all go out there to do the best we can in the most professional manner, exactly as we do in our day job.”   

O’Shea added: “We are all indebted to the Army, RAF and Royal Navy for the amount of support we have all received to allow us to reach the professional level on the football pyramid, whilst also being on rotations for deployments and operations.

“There will be something quite moving stood shoulder to shoulder during the pre-match ceremonies with guys that have lived through and felt the emotion of sacrifice on operations. It will be a special moment. But shortly after, when the first whistle goes, it’s business as usual.”

Jackson concluded: “Remembrance Weekend is a poignant time when the nation comes together and respects those who have served, serve now and ultimately the ones who have given their lives for their country. 

“A tri-service (Army, Navy and RAF) team of match officials have never been appointed on a game together – there’s no better weekend than Remembrance for it to happen for the first time.”

Referee: Sergeant Darren Drysdale

Current role & location: SNCO Operations, Intelligence Reserves Wing, RAF Waddington, Lincoln

Current length of service: 34 years

Military history significant events: Numerous tours in UK & overseas including active service in Iraq in 2003 as part of prison of war handling team.

Assistant Referee 1:  Captain Steve Finch

Current role & location: Administration Officer Role, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, Bury St Edmunds

Current length of service: 32 years

Military history significant events: Joined the Army as a Mariner in 1990, working at sea on Army landing crafts, finishing as a RSM before commissioning and taking up current role. Ops tours to Afghanistan and also six-month tour to Falklands and two years in Cyprus, where he completed the referee course with the RAF.

Assistant Referee 2:  Corporal Declan O’Shea

Current role & location: 5 Battalion REME, Mod Lyneham. Currently works as a JNCO in Engineering Operations.

Current length of service: 13.5 years

Military history significant events: Has held a number of jobs within his primary role as a vehicle mechanic, as well as being an instructor at a training establishment and taking recruit soldiers through some of their training phases.

Fourth Official:  Chief Petty Officer Scott Jackson

Current role & location: Chief Petty Officer and Social Worker working out of HMS Eaglet, Merseyside. 

Current length of service: 19 years

Military history significant events: Scott joined the RN in 2003 and underwent operational deployments during the early stages of his career before transferring to be a Physical Training Instructor in 2008. After seven years as a PTI, Scott switched roles to accommodate his alternate career as a referee and transferred into the Welfare organisation in which he still serves in today. 

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