Hatfield referee top of the league
EIGHT years ago, Phillip Draper was involved in a car crash that left him facing an uphill challenge to ever walk properly again. A keen footballer, Phillip needed extensive reconstructive surgery on his right knee, and doctors told him he would have
EIGHT years ago, Phillip Draper was involved in a car crash that left him facing an uphill challenge to ever walk properly again.
A keen footballer, Phillip needed extensive reconstructive surgery on his right knee, and doctors told him he would have difficulty walking, let alone running around a football field.
But with his playing days over, he decided to become a referee, and this week was celebrating after being named Referee of the Year for the Mid Herts Rural Football League.
Even with metal plates and bolts in his leg, the father-of-four beat 124 other referees to the title.
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"This is the best thing I've won as an individual," said Phillip, 48, from Hillcrest, Hatfield.
"Even if I hadn't had my accident this would be tops, but to do it after what happened to me makes me very proud.
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"Football has always been my passion, and to have to give it up after my accident was a real wrench, so that's why I decided to stay involved in the game through refereeing."
His wife Fenella, 44, said: "He had a very bad accident, and his knees built up with metal pins. Doctors said that he'd never be able to run again.
"Some people would have given up, but Phillip didn't. I'm very proud of him."
Phillip has now been promoted to a level six referee, allowing him to take charge of county and South Midlands League games. He plans to become a level five referee the following season.
League secretary Jean Lennon said: "We feel Phillip has been very well respected by all the age groups he's refereed, is reliable and very helpful.