|11-02-2010, 03:30 PM||#1|
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Woman referee becomes first to take charge of Football League game... after coming on as a sub
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:00 PM on 11th February 2010
A woman referee has made history by becoming the first ever to take charge of a Football League match.
Amy Fearn, 31, was drafted in during the last 20 minutes of a clash between Coventry and Nottingham Forest when the referee was forced off the field with a calf strain.
The move to call her up from the touch line this week destroys one of the last bastions of male sporting dominance.
The crowd responded in highly amused fashion, cheering as she blew the whistle for the first time.
And if the financial analyst from Loughborough has her way, she could ultimately be refereeing in the Premiership.
Enlarge Petticoat revolution: Referee Amy Fearn making her Championship debut on Tuesday night in the Coventry versus Nottingham Forest game
Women have run the line since the Nineties and petite Mrs Fearn had become well known as a League referee's assistant over the past four seasons.
But it was not until Tony Bates became injured on Tuesday night that she made the huge leap to taking charge.
The move was met with some raucous cheering and laughter from the benches, and a bit of whistling but proceeded without incident.
Married Mrs Fearn, who has been refereeing since the age of 14, said: ''It was great. I could get used to that every week.
'I always have a laugh with the referee before the game saying "Go on, give me 10 minutes". When it happened, it felt surreal.
'I understand there was a big reaction from the crowd but I didn't notice it at the time. I'm just glad there was nothing controversial in that 20 minutes. Football should be about the players, not referees.'
There was only one real spark during the game, after she added six minutes of extra time and then another two, prompting one fan to shout: 'Haven't you got a husband to go home to, love?'
Mrs Fearn said: 'Water off a duck's back. I just laugh and take it with a pinch of salt. At least that chant was original.'
Of her future ambitions, she added: 'It would be nice to referee in the Premier League one day, but obviously the competition is harder.
'My next promotion target is running the line in that division, but I started out as a ref and that is what I love doing - I want to continue being a referee.'
Coventry striker Clinton Morrison said: 'I thought she did really well and should definitely get to do it again. She must have been nervous - as any referee would on their first game - but she was not overawed and kept the game flowing...
'There is only one thing that matters about the person in charge and that is how good a referee they are.'
However a home win may have helped Mrs Fearn's cause.
In the past, the reception has not been so warm.
In November 2006, then Luton Town manager Mike Newell attacked her for ignoring calls for a penalty while running the line in their match with QPR.
He said: 'It is bad enough with incapable referees and linesmen but if you start bringing women into the game, you have big problems.
'This is Championship football. This is not park football. So what are women doing here? It is tokenism for politically correct idiots.'
He was fined £6,500 for the jibe and handed a severe warning by his club before giving a full apology.
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