PREMIER LEAGUE referee Roger East will be the Guest Speaker at this year’s Salisbury Journal Sports Awards.

Roger, from West Tytherley, is a previous winner at the Sports Awards, and says he's looking forward to hosting in February: “I’m looking forward to it, but I am nervous.

“I will be more nervous at the Sports Awards than if I was refereeing the next day at Manchester United.

“The environment of walking out in front of 50,000 is something I am used to, I’m in my comfort zone there, whereas when I speak to a crowd, its totally different.

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“I’m used to mainly talking to referees, but with a whole new audience I need to make something interesting around refereeing, but referees aren’t very interesting, so I’ll be trying to not be too boring.”

Roger added: “Most people don’t realise referees actually have the ability to talk and not just blow a whistle.”

Roger qualified as a referee in 1986, and has been working his way up the system ever since, becoming a Premier League referee in 2012.

He has had a long career which includes refereeing the 2012 Play Off Final at Wembley between Sheffield United and Huddersfield: “I suppose my career is a bit strange and wouldn’t happen now.

“I did two years in the Wessex League, six years in the Southern League, then six years in what is now the National League.

“Realistically that was my sort of apprenticeship really. You came up through the system and you did so many years at each level.

“But between 2005 to 2007, I was an assistant referee at international level, as well as a linesman during Champions League game.

“I was an assistant referee really up until 2007, and I was an international AR between 2005-07.

“I used to do international and Champions League games, that sort of thing, as an assistant ref. and then at that time I was still referring in the Conference.

“The interesting thing about that was that I basically took a 60 per cent pay cut to be promoted. Then it took me another five seasons to get to the Premier League (2012/3 season).

“These days you cant do what I did because now you get double promotions and get fast-tracked and hence we’ve got referees at the top level now in their late 20s or early 30s.”

“Once you get to being a football league linesman, you basically have to choose between being a linesman or being a referee, or they choose for you, so there’s probably only three guys that ref in the championship that are also international assistants, and the only ones likely to follow what I did.

The events major sponsor is Aspire Defence, and nominations are still open for this year’s awards, which will be held at the Stones Hotel on February 22.

The deadline for applications is January 25.

This year, the categories are:

  • Young Sports Achiever of the Year
  • School Sports Achievement of the Year
  • Disabled Sports Achiever of the Year
  • Footballer of the Year
  • Rugby Player of the Year
  • Cricket Player of the Year
  • Hockey Player of the Year
  • Athlete and Swimmer of the Year
  • Indoor Sports Player of the Year
  • Unsung Hero of the Year
  • Coach of the Year
  • Club of the Year
  • Gymnast of the Year
  • Martial Arts Achiever of the Year

To nominate a person or a club, click here