This year's star-studded event took place at the Marriot Victoria and Albert Hotel, with 115 referees in attendance. The Referee Awards were created separate from the Manchester FA Grassroots Awards, as with 650 registered referees and with many going on to represent the county and the game at a higher tier, it was felt that a separate awards ceremony was needed to celebrate their positive representation throughout the game.
One of the main purposes is to celebrate the promotion of referees, both young and old. The people who achieved their promotions for the 2016/17 season are:
Level 7 to Level 6
Alex Beeley, Gareth Burton, Ben Cotton, Jack Grimes, Gareth Mills, Marcin Rechemtiuk, Ken Allen, Abbie Hamer, Jamal Martins, Matt McCormick, Daniel Woodhead
Level 6 to Level 5
Jacob Graham, Justin Walton, Zeyad Ahmed, Ashley Boon, James Collantine, Lukas Cox, Emmanuel Fotsing, Andy Gater, Ryan Halpin, Ryan Hampson, Michael Hart, Cameron Heath, Kyle Mowbray, Tai Opesan, John Porter, Nalbi Sadek, Yasmin Saeed, Behnam Sarani, Ade Soneye, Joe Stuart
Level 5 to Level 4
Tom Carroll, Paul Bentley, Will Davis, Owen Evans, Declan Brown, Lee Harding, Matt Young, Alex Kelly
Senior Referee Promotions
Level 4 to Level 3
Mark Reeves, Paul Roots
Level 3 to Level 2B
Tom Parsons, Alex Kirkley, Mike Sutcliffe, Barry Lamb
Level 2B to Level 2A
However, the Awards are not just to celebrate the promotions of referees. Four major awards were presented on the night.
Firstly, there was the Rising Star award which is dedicated to Manchester FA Referee, Ken Gribben, who sadly passed away six years ago doing the job he loved. The winner of this award was Rebecca Lees, and she was presented the award by Manchester FA Referee Development Group Co-ordinator, Chris Bega along with Debbie Phillips, one of Ken’s close family members.
The second award was the Manchester FA Referee of the Year, which was given to Paul Bentley. He was presented with his award by Manchester FA Referee Academy Co-ordinator Mike Sutcliffe.
The next two awards are decided by a group from Manchester FA, and they are the Referee Volunteer of the Year and the Outstanding Contribution to Refereeing award, which were won by Joe Cunningham and Chris Dyson respectively.
Rounding off the night was a special recognition award to former Referee Development Manager, Chris Kavanagh. With the recent news of Chris' appointment as a Premier League official from next season, it was the perfect chance to congratulate him on his achievement as he becomes the first Manchester FA representative in the top-flight.
Speaking about his first event as Manchester FA's Referee Development Officer, Tom Elliott said; "It was a fantastic occasion where we celebrated the best of refereeing and were able to pay tribute to the successes and achievements of the last 12 months.
"I’d just like to thank Steve Tanner from the FA, Jon Moss and Bobby Madley from the Professional Game Match Official’s Limited for supporting the event and sharing their experiences. While it took a lot of effort, it was worth it to recognise everyone involved and I’m looking forward to doing it all again in 2018."
Written by Casey Evans