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History was made in the Extra Preliminary Round of this year’s FA Cup by Eric Strange of Kingston RA, who was appointed to his first ever FA Cup match at the age of 79! This makes him not only the oldest official ever to receive their first ever appointment to an FA Cup tie, but as far as records exist, the oldest to actually officiate in any FA Cup tie.

Eric took to the field for the tie between Sheerwater and Banstead on Saturday 6th August as one of the Assistant Referees and was absolutely thrilled to receive the appointment. Despite qualifying in December 2004, Eric had never received one of these prestigious appointments and was looking forward to telling his grandchildren all about the experience .“Never thought this would ever happen!” said Eric. It will be a lovely story to tell my grandchildren and hopefully I might get appointed to the next round if I did well enough today!”

Eric on the left of the referee, Richard Marus, lines up for the KO together with Andrew Stanford, AFA official from Orpington, Kent, the other AR.

Referee Richard Marus said about Eric’s performance, “It is always a pleasure to work with Eric, and was even more so on such a special appointment. This was a very competitive game on a scorching hot afternoon between two teams who know each other very well. Eric’s fitness, ability, teamwork and empathy for the game stood out and he made a major contribution to the enjoyment of all concerned. “

Chairman of Kingston RA, Gerry Kehoe said, “Eric is a true professional and one I would want on my side in a crisis. Always happy to help wherever needed. So stepping up at the last minute is something Eric would take in his stride, always calm and collective and would carry out his duties in a manner that would put the man in the middle at ease knowing that Eric would provide calm and reassurance at all times. 

As they say age is just a number and Eric is proof of that, experience cannot be taught only earned. Congratulations to Eric on supporting Richard on his late call of duty.“

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