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George Byrne reflects on his outing at Wembley

George Byrne said he is immensely proud of a ‘unique achievement’ after officiating at Wembley, writes Nick Garnham.

The 28-year-old was an assistant referee for Monday night’s EFL League Two Play-Off Final in which Northampton Town defeated Exeter City 4-0.

The official, who lives near Mildenhall, followed in the footsteps of wife Abi, who has twice trodden the hallowed turf at Wembley, the most recent being when she refereed the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final in May 2019.

With no supporters or guests allowed inside the stadium due to Covid-19, Abi and George’s parents had a family pizza night and watched the game together instead.

Byrne said: “It's certainly a unique achievement as a couple and we're both immensely proud. Abi has been to Wembley twice, so I haven't matched her yet. My aim will be to work hard and hopefully get another game there in the future.”

He said he felt very proud when he walked out onto the pitch ahead of kick-off, even though the stadium was virtually empty.

Byrne added: “It's every player or official's dream to walk out at Wembley.

“Having no fans in the stadium but knowing hundreds of thousands – or more – were watching at home was very strange.

“Thankfully the game went by without any major controversy. I think the best part was the sense of accomplishment at the end, knowing that we'd done a good job as a team.”

Byrne said the officials received a match ball and a printed team sheet each as a memento, but they will receive their medals at a later date because all contact had to be kept to a minimum.

He continued: “Even though there were no fans to provide the passion and atmosphere in the stadium, the significance of the game definitely makes it the highlight of my career.

“It meant everything to the clubs, the players and the supporters watching at home, so it was an honour to be trusted as one of the five match officials on the game.”