ONE of Wiltshire’s longest-standing referees has finally hung up his boots and whistle for the last time after an incredible 44 years officiating the beautiful game. 

Swindon man Rod Wirdnam’s huge contribution to grassroots football in the county were recognised by the Wiltshire FA, with chairman Clive Archer handing over a special award following his retirement. 

The 85-year-old retired earlier this year, with his 1,645th and final match taking place on May 30.

Rod, who was presented a personalised match ball in March 2018 for officiating his 1,600th game, reflected on a career of many highlights dating back to the 1970s.

He said: “I have officiated in a total of 1,645 games in the Wiltshire County, Swindon & District, Wiltshire FA Women’s and Girls, North Wiltshire Youth, Swindon Sunday, North Berkshire leagues.

“Throughout my 44 years, there have been, I am glad to say, very few lows but many highs.

“The  undoubted highlight being when in May 2006, a group of us travelled to and officiated at the famous old ground of Highbury, the former home of Arsenal FC. 

“I had seen very many games there when living in London.

“The most notable being Arsenal’s  defeat to the Busby Babes on February 2, 1958 – some newspapers of the day calling it the greatest match ever – before so many of the Manchester United club tragically lost their lives the following week in Munich.

“I have also been lucky enough to have officiated in six finals at Swindon Town’s County Ground.; also, being given two engraved trophies from the North Wilts Youth Football League to mark my 30 years and 1,500 games respectively and a commemorative medal from the Wiltshire FA upon my retirement.

“My last game was on 30th May 2021, a North Wiltshire Youth League match between Abbey Meads and Hungerford Town U12s, a 3-3 draw at the age of 85 and a half years.

Mr Archer hailed Rod's "unique achievement".
He said “He’s refereed in every aspect of the game, from women to youth to adult.

“He’s well worthy of an award for that service, refereeing is one of the hardest jobs in football.”

“Everyone at Wiltshire County FA would like to congratulate Mr Rod Wirdnam on his long service award to refereeing. 

“We would like to thank him for his service to officiating the game in Wiltshire, and other counties, for many years."