Local refs are rising up ladder

Natalie Aspinall, pictured with daughter Emilia

Natalie Aspinall, pictured with daughter Emilia

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A local referee has become only the fifth woman to reach the ranks of the Football League – while another has completed a remarkable rise into the professional game.

Natalie Aspinall, 34, a lecturer at Preston College, has been promoted to the Football League as an assistant referee.

She will be only the fifth woman to reach that level in England – following Sian Massey, Helen Byrne, Amy Fearn and Lisa Rashid.

And school teacher Michael Salisbury, from Penwortham, has been promoted to the Football League as a referee, after just one year refereeing on the National League Premier, formerly the Conference.

He will be joining his dad Graham, who is an established Football League referee.

The promotions complete a remarkable season for both officials, who started their careers in the middle on the West Lancashire League.

Aspinall, who lives in Blackpool, was the assistant referee at the National League play-off final between Grimsby Town and Forest Green Rovers at Wembley last month.

Mum-of-one Aspinall, who took up refereeing as a teenager, has also refereed the Women’s FA Cup final and officiated at two Women’s World Cups, in Canada and Germany.

Salisbury, who was an assistant referee in the Premier League last season, was promoted to the ranks of FIFA assistant and was named reserve assistant referee at the recent FA Cup final between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Wembley.

He was refereeing in the Northern Premier League just a few years ago but has enjoyed two successive promotions to join the Football League ranks.

David McNamara, from Grimsargh, was also promoted to level 2b, meaning he will referee in the National League North – which includes Chorley and AFC Fylde – next season.