Former Bourne Grammar School pupil earns Football League promotion
Former Bourne Grammar School pupil Josh Smith has overcome a roller-coaster of emotions to earn promotion as a Football League referee.
The 26-year-old will be among the youngest referees in the professional game after shrugging off an injury setback to fulfil his ambition.
Twelve months ago he had surgery to pin a shoulder that dislocated on a regular basis which lowered his expectations of progressing in the professional ranks.
However, after receiving news of his promotion, Smith is eagerly-awaiting the chance of refereeing games in Leagues One and Two when the new season starts in August.
He said: “I was absolutely delighted to have received the news of my promotion and am extremely excited about the upcoming season.
“Last season I experienced a roller-coaster of emotions, however, the opportunity of walking out with the match ball on the Football League next year means that it will all be worth the sacrifices and training that goes alongside refereeing.”
Smith started out as a player for Bourne Town Juniors before he began refereeing aged 14, having trained through the Stamford Referees Association under the guidance of Trevor Mitchell.
He was also inspired by his dad Nigel,a former referee, who he accompanied to many matches as a child where the passion began.
Now living in Bedford while working as a physical education and maths teacher in Barnet, North London, Smith began in the Peterborough Junior Alliance for two years before progressing smoothly through the ranks.
He has also refereed in the Peterborough & District Youth League, the Peterborough & District (adult) League, the Peterborough Sunday Morning League, the United Counties League, contributory leagues and the National League South.
Smith also spent two seasons as an assistant referee in the Football League – at 22 he was the youngest assistant in the league at the time.
He would have been the youngest referee in the Football League competition, but for two 24-year-olds winning promotion from the National League alongside him.
However, he has still been elevated to the Football League list after just one season at National League level.
His last match in that competition was Leyton Orient’s title-winning game against Braintree in front of 8,300 at Brisbane Road.
Smith said: “Last season went well and I’m thrilled to get on the Football League list so soon.
“I love the job and I can’t wait to get my first Football League matches.
“There is a lot of commitment and travel now, but I was up and down the country last season so I’m ready for a game in Plymouth when it comes!
“The Orient game at the end of the season was a great occasion.
“It’s the biggest crowd I’ve experienced in the middle, although I have run the line at Ipswich and Portsmouth in front of bigger attendances.
“When you start refereeing you automatically have an ambition to get to Football League level, but you don’t expect it to happen.”
Smith has refereed once in the Football League already having taken over from an injured official when fourth official in a game at Northampton against Bristol Rovers in 2016.