A fan of English soccer club Wolverhampton was unable to celebrate his team’s late win in an FA Cup replay — because he’d been plucked from the crowd to stand in as a match official.
Ross Bennett attended the Wolves-Brentford game on Tuesday with his 11-year-old son and volunteered to fill in as the fourth official in the technical area near the dugouts following an injury to one of the assistant referees in extra time.
Bennett, a qualified referee at youth level, said he was given a "crash course" on how to work the substitutes’ board and dealt with questions from members of the Brentford staff in a tense end to the match at Molineux.
The hardest part of his new job might have been when Matheus Cunha converted the penalty that ultimately sealed a 3-2 win for Wolves and an eagerly anticipated fourth-round match against local rival West Bromwich Albion.
Nathan Fraser of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Brentford at Molineux on January 16, 2024 in Wolverhampton
"I was just gutted that I couldn’t celebrate our goal," Bennett told the BBC. "I had to stay neutral.
"Inside I’m screaming, thinking, ‘I’m off to the Hawthorns in less than two weeks.’ I thought, ‘I’m the only Wolves fan in here not celebrating.’"
Bennett had to be up early for work on Wednesday but still spent time in the referees’ room after the match.
"It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing and it’s never going to come about again," he said, adding: "It still doesn’t feel real that it happened."