THE Football League’s youngest-ever referee will take charge of Town’s clash with Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
Michael Oliver, above, was 21 when he officiated at the Hereford v Grimsby League II game in March 2007.
The Ashington whistler, now 23, was in the middle for three Town games last season – the 4-1 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat at Grimsby, 3-2 FA Cup victory at Accrington and 1-0 League I home defeat by Swansea, when he red carded Rob Page.
It will be a 10th match of the season for Oliver, whose father Clive is also a league referee.
He was handed Carling Cup clashes at Premiership clubs Blackburn (against Grimsby) and Liverpool (versus Crewe).
He was also in charge of Monday’s Meadow Lane League II meeting between Notts County and Brentford, when the home side salvaged a 1-1 draw with a controversial penalty.
Oliver has made a quick progression since he took up the whistle aged 14.
Two years later his first adult games as referee were in Sunday morning parks football.
But by 19, he was running the line in the Football League and a year after that he became a panel referee, allowing him to hold the whistle in Conference matches.