From Wembley to Lord's

ECB Association of Cricket Officials
Martin Bodenham

Martin Bodenham was named as one of 25 full-time umpires on Monday

Martin Bodenham hopes his experiences as a leading football referee will help him when he embarks on life as a professional umpire.

The 58-year-old was named as one of 25 full-time umpires for 2009 and will make history when he stands next season as the first person in England and Wales to officiate at the top level in football and cricket.

"It has not really sunk in yet," Bodenham told ecb.co.uk. "It will be a good quiz question in five years. I did not think it had been done before so I thought it would be great to be that first person. It wasn't something that spurred me on though, I was more concerned with my on-field performance.

"I did not expect to be appointed. I set an objective with my coach John Holder to have a good season and put myself in a position where I might be considered. I thought I had a good season and the feedback I had was positive."

Bodenham is well known for his time as a referee which peaked in 1997 when he took charge of the League Cup final between Leicester and Middlesbrough, which the East Midlands side won after a replay.

Football and cricket could hardly be more different but Bodenham insists there are similarities when it comes to referees and umpires.

"Both games need three principles," he insisted. "They are managing games, managing players and making accurate decisions. If you do those well then you will get the respect of the players. I am a great believer that you should keep out of the game.

"I enjoy both sports. I'm still involved in football. I coach 12 referees at semi-professional level, am a UEFA delegate and assess on the Premier League.

"But I am hugely passionate about cricket. I was a member at Sussex when I was four or five. My early recollections of watching cricket were of Sussex, the likes of Jim Parkes and Ken Suttle. Sussex were in the first two finals of the Gillette Cup and I saw them both."

Martin Bodenham

Bodenham took charge of the 1997 League Cup final between Leicester and Middlesbrough

Bodenham was a handy player in his time too, the pinnacle of which was a handful of games for Sussex's second XI.

"I was not quite good enough to play professional cricket," he said. "I was 12th man for Sussex once.

"I played league cricket in Sussex and Cornwall and after that the next obvious thing was to umpire. When I played league cricket there was not always an umpire, so I often did it just to help out. It gave me a buzz, possibly because of my refereeing background."

After joining the Sussex League ranks, Bodenham progressed up the ladder and was soon overseeing matches in the Second XI County Championship.

"After a few seasons Peter Moores said I should think about going on the reserve list, but I did not think much about it," he recalled.

"I was just enjoying umpiring. He gave me a fantastic reference and when I got the news of my appointment, I emailed him in India to tell him. He said it was fantastic news and that the first-class game would be better for my appointment. That was really nice."

Having walked out at Wembley, is umpiring at Lord's something he aspires to?

"That would be nice," he answered. "Nobody has a divine right to umpire at Lord's but I'd take it. Everything now is a bonus. I don't have any expectations. I just want to keep improving and establish myself as an umpire in the first class game."