IT’S every boy’s dream to walk out onto the Wembley pitch on Cup Final day and this afternoon Drighlington’s Martin Atkinson will do just that.
But he won’t be playing - the Premier League referee has been handed the honour of officiating one of the world’s biggest football games.
For some it might be an unenviable task but ever since his playing career was cut short by a leg injury as a teenager Martin’s ambitions lay in refereeing.
Over the past few years he has been appointed to some huge domestic and European matches, including Champions League games involving Real Madrid and Inter Milan and he was the fourth official to Howard Webb at last year’s final in Madrid.
Recently he was under the spotlight after decisions he made during a Manchester United game unleashed the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Martin, 40, will be hoping for no such reaction after today’s game between Manchester City and Stoke City and among the legions of those teams’ sets of fans will be his very own supporters - his proud family.
His mum and dad and younger brother Jonathan, will all be at Wembley on Saturday to see him perform on one of the game’s greatest stages.
Dad Jack said: “Referees really only get one Cup Final so it’ll be his first and his last.
“We’re all going to be there at Wembley and it’s going to be a great day for us. We’re so proud of him,”
Mum Christine added they had some of the best seats in the house.
Back in the mid 1980s the then 15-year-old Martin was featured in the Morley Advertiiser talking about his dreams of appearing at the Twin Towers.
After being encouraged by Richard Jackson, a trainer for Drighlington Boys FC, he had just qualified as an official and was refereeing matches in the Leeds Sunday Combiniation League and the Heavy Woollen League.
He said it was his intention to move up a grade each year before hopefully breaking into the Senior FA leagues.
“Then who knows...Wembley could beckon!” the paper predicted.
This afternoon that prediction will come true in front of a television audience of millions.