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Papa Johns Trophy

A whistle-stop tour of Wembley

Get to know the man in the middle for the Papa Johns Trophy Final!

31 March 2022

Leading out the teams at the Papa Johns Trophy Final 2022 is a PGMOL-appointed line-up that boasts several years of experience officiating in the EFL.

For Referee Seb Stockbridge, the showpiece will go down as a career highlight. The man in the middle answers our burning questions ahead of kick-off...

How big of an occasion is it to be refereeing the Papa John's Trophy Final 2022?

To be able to referee such an important domestic cup competition is a very proud achievement and to be selected from amongst my peers to take charge of the Final is a tremendous feeling. For the Final to also be held at Wembley is a dream come true and certainly a defining moment of my refereeing career to date. Both Semi-Finals were certainly close affairs with both going to penalties. Both teams are doing well in League, too, so it certainly has the potential to be a close and competitive game.

Will you have family and friends in attendance?

My wife Nichola will be accompanying to the game along with my parents Ivor and Lesley, and my brother Simon. It is such a privilege to be able to have them at the Final and reward them for all the great support they have shown me over the years. As well as this, I have some friends and refereeing colleagues attending the game too.

What was that moment like when you found out?

Mike Jones, National Group Director, attempted to call me at 10.30am but I missed his call as I was at work. I tried to call him back to no avail, but he then rang back about 15 minutes later. He tried to be funny with me asking about my availability but then asked if I was free on Sunday 3 April, to which I asked him what was happening that day. We both knew what was happening and he asked if I would like to referee the Final. It was a tad overwhelming at the time but very exciting!

How have you and the team prepared ahead of the Final?

As with Papa Johns Trophy Finals, the officiating team were given the opportunity to work together prior to the Final and this is a great experience that PGMOL provide us with. We worked together a couple of weeks before the Final - this allowed us to bond and create a great team dynamic going ahead of the big day.

In relation to my own preparation, I will watch both Semi-Finals again and have a look at the teams’ previous games (players, formations, tactics). I have continued to referee since my appointment so I will leave this until the week leading up to the Final so I can remain focused on one game at a time. I will continue with my physical prep as normal and try to do my pre-game and matchday stuff like any other game.

How important is teamwork in refereeing?

Vital. Without a team we wouldn’t be able to deliver the game in the way we do. The amount of communication that we share during the game goes under the radar to the public - we are constantly working together, communicating and using visual cues with the aim of arriving at correct decisions. The role I have is to make sure we all, as individuals, have the same goal so we can have a collaborative and driven focus for the game. We can’t do it alone.

How will your previous experiences stand you in good stead for this showpiece event?

Having been a EFL referee for nine years now, I have been fortunate to officiate numerous games across all EFL competitions as well as many live TV games - I believe this has prepared me well for this occasion.

Finally, what would your message be to aspiring referees?

Be the best you can be. Treat every game as a cup final and leave it all on the green stuff. You only get one chance at it so why look back and say I wish I had done a bit more. Learn from your mistakes and celebrate your success.

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