A HEREFORD match official's dream has come true after being promoted to the Football League.
Kevin Morris, who started officiating in matches at Gorsty Lane, could now find himself running the line at Elland Road, Carrow Road or Hillsborough next season after gaining the necessary skills to make the step up.
He would be the first person from the county to officiate in the Football League since Andy Williams, who even rose as high as the Premier League before stepping down around four years ago.
"I am absolutely ecstatic," said Morris, who lives in Church Road.
"I have had a very long apprenticeship and have been a Conference Premier and a Southern League referee for a number of seasons.
"It has always been a distant dream of mine to get to the Football League, but I never thought I would get to that level.
"However, I have put a lot of effort in and it has now come to fruition."
Thirty-six-year-old Morris qualified as a referee when he was 14 after realising that he was not going to make the grade as a player.
After starting out at grassroots level, he progressed up the ranks to officiate at Conference Premier and Southern League games.
His last Conference game was as an assistant referee during Aldershot's 3-2 win against Salisbury on Good Friday - a game that Morris knew would affect Hereford's chances of staying in the league.
"It was a very nervy game because there was a lot at stake," said Morris.
"But, Hereford ended up staying up so it all came good in the end."
Morris thinks he has officiated around 1,000 games during the past 22 years.
He classes an FA Cup first round game between Kidderminster Harriers and Sutton United last season as a particular highlight.
"Because it was an all non-league tie, I got to run the line," said Morris.
"I have also officiated an FA Vase quarter-final game, as well as Luton against Grimsby last season that was shown on BT Sport.
"That was was played in front of around 7,000 fans."
Morris said that he wanted to thank a number of people who have helped him get to where he has.
"I couldn't have done anything without my wife Kelly, who has taken the brunt of a lot of things - hopefully she can now see the rewards," said Morris.
"I have also had a lot of support from the Herefordshire Football Association, Andy Williams and Peter West, who is the president of the Herefordshire Referees' Association.
"My mum and dad also took me to various games throughout the years - my dad still goes to a lot of my games."
Roger Goodwin, football strategy manager at the HFA, said that he was delighted for Morris.
"Kevin has been a Level 3 referee for a number of years and we are delighted with his promotion into the professional game which has been through hard work and commitment," said Goodwin.
"One of the most satisfying and rewarding aspects is the role played by the referee.
"Through evidencing high quality performances, which are assessed throughout the season, officials can apply for promotion and the HFA strive to support and develop their referee workforce."
Other promotions across the county include Alan Robinson and Tom Jones, who have been selected to referee at league four level, such as Midland Alliance and West Midlands Regional Leagues.
In addition, they will also serve as assistant referees on the contributory leagues.
Stephen Hughes will be a senior county referee, while Sharleen Watkins, Haydn Kirby, Malcolm Johns, Mark Ammonds, Julian Bancroft-Martin, Joshua Marchant and Jack Tomlinson have all been promoted to serve as local county referees.
Paul Hamlin, of the Army FA, who is a regular referee on the Herefordshire Leagues, has also been promoted to level four by the Army FA.
Elsewhere, Steve Moggs was appointed as an assistant referee for the Women’s Reserve Cup Final between Bradford City and Cardiff City FC last month.
The HFA will be holding a referees course in August.
For more information, email email@example.com or visit herefordshirefa.com