Shropshire Star

Top cop set to help maintain law and order in deaf international football encounter in Telford tonight

A top Shrewsbury police officer will be laying down the law in a different way tonight (Friday).

Referee Mark Reilly

Instead of leading the thin blue line in action against criminals Chief Inspector Mark Reilly is to run the line tonight (Friday) for the Men’s Deaf International between England and Germany at Telford United’s New Buck's Head Stadium.

It is Mark's international debut – as an assistant football referee and he says he is “super chuffed” at being chosen as part of the officiating team for the key warm up game.

It will see England take on football rivals Germany in the run up to the ICSD 4th World Deaf Football Championships which will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from September 23 to October 7, 2023.

The Shrewsbury-based Chief Inspector has been officiating for the last six years including the last two years in the Midlands Football League.

Chief Inspector Mark Reilly

Mark said: “I am super chuffed and just very proud to be awarded an international friendly and not only that a fixture with a massive history no matter the level of football.

“I am representing Shropshire and Telford referees but also West Mercia Police as an officer of 21 years experience. It gives me a great sense of pride to be doing this for the community.”

Mark regularly officiates as part of a team of three with Andrew Biggin and Shaun Currall and they have been chosen on merit for the big game by the Football Association.

Rich Butler, a hugely experienced referee of deaf and blind games and also proficient in sign language, will referee the game with Mark and Shaun as assistant referees and Andrew as fourth official. It is Mark’s first experience of officiating a deaf football game.

Mark is a Manchester United fan after successfully surprising his family of Manchester City fans when he was a child by suddenly announcing his red allegiance.

“I announced it with my cousin and we got the reaction we wanted, they were astounded and supporting United just stuck,” says Mark.

Mark’s football career as a right midfielder includes playing for Holyhead, representing the county of Anglesey and then North Wales as well as trials for Wrexham and ironically Manchester CITY. He also went on to play for the Royal Military Police and BOD Donnington before turning his talents to officiating.

He says his favourite game as an assistant referee was an invitation game at Shrewsbury’s Sundorne Sports Centre with teams managed by England stars Dennis Wise and Des Walker.

The men’s deaf international between England and Germany kicks off tonight at 7.45pm at the New Buck’s Head, Telford.

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