U17s World Cup final the pinnacle of Premer League referee Oliver's career

Premier League referee Michael Oliver.
Premier League referee Michael Oliver.

Premier League referee Michael Oliver reached the pinnacle of his career then four days later returned to his roots to be the man in the middle of a friendly match to mark the official opening of Ashington CFC’s new 250-seat AkzoNobel stand.

Oliver said he was honoured after taking charge of the under-17’s Football World Cup final held in Chile last weekend between Mali and Nigeria.

But he was also delighted to be contacted whilst out of the country about the unveiling ceremony at Woodhorn Lane which took place last Thursday.

The Ashington-born official, who began refereeing at the age of 16, said the final had gone very smoothly.

“The game went as well as it could have done,” said Oliver, who had England’s Stuart Burt and Gary Beswick as his two assistants.

“To be selected out of 26 trios in the world, seven from Europe and the only one from England was a great achievement.

"There were still seven possible referees who could have be awarded the final, so for me to get the game was the pinnacle of my career and was a huge honour.”

Oliver awarded Nigeria an early penalty, which was saved and only had one yellow card to administer as Nigeria won 2-0 in front of a crowd of 15,235.

However, the 30-year-old, who said that being a Premier League referee is still a ‘dream come true', made his return home in time for Ashington FC’s big night on Thursday.

He said: “Whilst I was away in Chile I was asked if I would be available to do the Ashington friendly against a Newcastle United XI, and I had no hesitation in saying ‘yes,’.

“It’s nice to come back and do games like this and see people who you haven’t seen for a while."

Ashington-born Adam Nichol and Bedlington-based Evan Culling were Oliver’s assistants as the Magpies ran out 8-1 winners.

Striker Sean Longstaff helped himself to four goals with Adam Laidler notching a brace whilst Lewis McNall and substitute Owen Gallagher were also on the score sheet.

Skipper Andrew Johnson netted the consolation effort for the home side.

Despite appalling weather conditions and a near gale force westerly wind accompanied by driving rain, the match was played out in front of a terrific attendance of 1,229.