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Following in grandad’s footsteps

 
Created on 28/01/2020 @ 10:00
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Yesterday we highlighted the battle cry issued by refereeing chiefs who fear for the future of local football due to an acute shortage of those taking up the whistle, but one Welshpool teenager is helping to lead the fightback.

Joe Mills Hogg was inspired to take up the whistle two years ago as a 16-year-old after his mother Lynsey showed him a picture of his popular grandad who sadly died at the age of just 36.

Derek Mills was a respected referee who was also secretary of the Montgomeryshire Amateur League before his sudden death. His father was a referee before him.

Joe never had the chance to meet his grandad, but that picture has led to a fledgling career in the local game which is in desperate need of fresh blood taking up the whistle to keep it going.

“Grandad and my great grandfather, who are now deceased, were well known referees in Powys,” said Joe. “Mum showed me a picture of my grandad in his ref’s kit. It was inspiring to me and helped me believe I could also be a ref.

“I was not good at playing football but wanted to stay within the game. I had a passion for it so started officiating when I was 16 and have enjoyed it ever since.

“I started off refereeing the youngsters but now I’m being an assistant ref for the senior games.”

Joe has already run the line for Mid Wales League leaders Llanidloes Town when they met Bow Street and hopes to continue his journey up the ladder for bigger games in future.

He conceded there is some stick given from players and spectators, but said he also earns a lot of respect from those inside and outside of the game for being a referee. He also pointed out that it is financially rewarding and urged other youngsters to take up the whistle.

The teenager was at Sunday night’s Shrewsbury Town match with Liverpool when the underdogs took the world club champions to an FA Cup replay.

Prior to the match, Joe had the chance to chat with some of the BBC pundits on their way to the studio.

“I asked Ian Wright (pictured) for advice and he told me ‘if you really enjoy it, keep on going, stay firm with your decisions. All the best and hope you have a successful future in refereeing’. It meant a lot receiving some advice from someone like him.”

With a bright career ahead of him, Joe, a student at Coleg Powys Newtown studying Level 3 Sport, has one immediate obstacle to overcome.

“I need to pass my driving test to get to games!” he said. “At the moment I am having to rely on other refs for lifts.”

If you would like to take up the whistle, visit https://becomearef.wales

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