Holt will be marking 50th anniversary of Bridge Road with a special game

Mike and Margaret Stott pictured at Twickenham Picture: MIKE STOTT

Mike and Margaret Stott pictured at Twickenham Picture: MIKE STOTT - Credit: Archant

This season sees an important anniversary for Holt Rugby Club – 50 years ago they opened their new ground at Bridge Road with a fixture against a representative team from Eastern Counties.

On Sunday, October 14 (3pm) the club will celebrate the milestone with a match against the same opposition, preceded by three youth matches, starting at 11am, and a celebratory lunch.

On the touchline will be five members of the Holt team that appeared in the 1968 fixture, together with the long-standing club member who refereed that game, Mike Stott.

His long spell as an official started in 1966 when two Holt teams were playing away at Earlham and the designated referee for the first XV game failed to appear. He was asked to relinquish his second XV place and take up the referee's whistle for the first time and, in his own words, 'I enjoyed it, it clicked and it went on from there'.

Until his retirement from active refereeing in 1990, Mike estimates he officiated on average 40 fixtures a season – although he has not kept count he must have approached or overtaken 1,000 games. He became a list A referee for the English Rugby Union and, in his long and distinguished career, refereed games at Northampton, Cambridge University and for Eastern Counties.

When asked what makes a good referee, he puts the emphasis on man management and, above all, consistency.

'If there is one thing that spoils a game and upsets the players it is inconsistency in refereeing decisions,' he said.

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Although his record of officiating is most impressive, in many ways Mike is more proud of his administrative achievements in improving and developing referees in the county. At the age of 78 he has been a member of the Norfolk Referees Society for 51 years, serving on their governing body for 48.

On Saturday, Holt go to Thurston, who lost 62-0 at Wisbech last week, for their latest London Three Eastern Counties game, having won all three so far. Wymondham, the other side with a 100 per cent record, travel to Wisbech, while it's Thetford v Ely, Crusaders v Fakenham and West Norfolk v Woodbridge.