The Fylde coast has its first Football League referee for a decade.
Poulton-based Scott Oldham, 35, has been promoted to Level 1 after just one season refereeing in the National League.
The self-employed joiner is one of just six to make the leap into the professional game after a hugely impressive season in the middle.
Scott, whose dad Barry was a Football League assistant referee, officiated the Premier League 2 final between Swansea and Reading’s U23 sides and the National League play-off second leg between Tranmere Rovers and Aldershot.
He is the first Fylde coast referee to reach the Level 1 ranks since Mark Cowburn, who retired in 2006.
Scott underwent a rigorous selection process – including law tests, a punishing fitness test and a panel interview – before he was notified that he had made the grade.
Scott, dad to seven-month-old Alyssa, said: “It was a brilliant feeling to be told I had been promoted to the Football League.
“My aim all along when I started refereeing was to be involved in the professional game and I’m delighted I have made it.
“I never expected to be in line for promotion after just one year in the National League, so it’s fantastic for me.”
Scott’s achievements are all the more remarkable because he was out injured until September, missing the whole of pre-season and the busy August calendar.
He underwent a knee operation last May but with the help of local physio Jamie Murphy he was ready to take up the whistle again in an FA Cup tie at Skelmersdale.
He went on to referee 38 games in a busy season that ended with those two key fixtures, in front of more than 10,000 fans at Tranmere’s Prenton Park and then the Premier League 2 final at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium.
Scott said: “The atmosphere at the Tranmere game was incredible and it was great to be part of.
“They were 3-0 up from the first leg but it turned out to be a great game of football and I had to be switched on because Aldershot were 2-1 up at one point. It all went well in the end.” Scott, who is married to Heather, is now looking ahead to next season and is aiming high.
He said: “My ambition is to get to the Premier League but first and foremost I want to find my feet in the Football League, continue to learn and hopefully reach the Championship.”
Kirkham school teacher Leigh Doughty, 27, has also been promoted.
He is now a level 2b referee, which involves teams in the National League North, including Chorley and Southport. And Richard Aspinall, from Marton, has been promoted to level 3, which will see him referee in the Evostik League.