July is a very busy month for Wales’s International Referees and UEFA Referee Observers.
On the refereeing front, Mark Whitby heads for Albania this week for the Europa League Qualification game between FC Kukes and Flora Tallinn of Estonia being played in Tirana. He will be assisted by Gareth Wyn Jones (Bontnewydd) and Lewiss Edwards (Aberdare) with Nick Pratt (Connahs’ Quay) as 4th Official.
Also travelling this week will be Bryn Markham Jones who takes charge of the Valletta (Malta) v La Fiorita (San Marino) game in the same competition. Bryn is the youngest of Wales' International referees and the third youngest in Europe. The teacher, who hails from Wrexham, will take charge of his first ever UEFA club match and his Assistants are Eddie King (Ystradgynlais) and Phil Thomas (Trealaw) with Huw Jones (Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant) as 4th Official.
Llanllechid’s Lee Evans has a Champion’s League Qualification either in Andorra or the Faroe Islands in the 2nd round between the winners of EB Streymur and Murano who will host Dinamo Tbilisi Champions of Ukraine. His Assistants are Eddie King (Ystradgynlais) and Daniel Beckett (Llangennech) with Aberdare’s Richard Harrington as 4th Official.
Lee also has another date in his diary when on August 14th he will take charge of the Friendly A International between Finland and Slovenia in Turku, some 150km outside Helsinki. Joining Lee on the trip will be J B Roberts (Llanllynfi) and Phil Thomas (Trealaw) as his Assistants with Swansea’s Bryn Markham-Jones as 4th Official
Our Referee Observers are also seeing busy times. Holyhead’s Brian Lawlor travelled to Baku in Azerbaijan last week for the Europa League game between Inter Baku and Mariehamm of Finland and in two weeks goes to the winner of the St Patricks (Dublin) / Zalgiris of Lithuania game who will host the winners of the Teteks (Macedonia) / Pyunik (Armenia).
Cardiff’s Ray Ellingham has the shortest journey when he travels to the Sligo Rovers v Molde game in the Republic of Ireland in the Champions’ League 2nd qualification round. Molde, from Norway, are managed by former Manchester United star Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer.
Referees’ Manager Rodger Gifford is also being kept busy. Last week in Reykjavik (Iceland) for the KR v Glentoran (Northern Ireland) game he travels next week to Tbilisi in Georgia for the Dila Gori v Aalborg (Denmark) game in the Europa League 2nd qualification round.
FAW’s Head of Competitions Andrew Howard commented; "This time of year always represents a very busy time for our International referees. Referees have a very short close-season as they have already prepared for and completed their pre-season fitness test, so they will be raring to go when they land abroad. This also means that come the start of the domestic season, they will also be match-fit and that can only be good for alll.
"I hope that all of our officials and observers abroad have a successful trip as they fly the refereeing flag for Wales in Europe."