Rebecca Welch has made history by becoming the first woman to referee a professional men’s football match as Port Vale beat Harrogate 2-0.
The match passed without incidence, with just one yellow card given by Welch, going the way of Harrogate midfielder George Thomson.
Both goals were scored in the second half, with David Worrall opening the scoring shortly after the restart and Kurtis Guthrie rounding off the win with stoppage time approaching.
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In 2019, Stephanie Frappart was in charge as Liverpool and Chelsea clashed in the UEFA Super Cup, but this is the first time a woman has overseen a domestic match between two Football League teams, barring Amy Fearn, who was in the middle of the final 20 minutes of a match between Coventry and Nottingham Forest after the original referee was injured.
Welch told SB Nation before the match: “I’m nervous for every single game – it doesn’t matter what game it is, whether it’s a top of the league women’s game on TV or a game locally, I always get butterflies in my stomach.
“I think that’s a good thing because if I’m nervous it means I care. But I won’t approach it differently to any other game.”
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Welch began refereeing in 2010 but did not give up her day job, in National Health Service Administration, until 2019. She has long been a fixture in the Women’s Super League and is UEFA-certified, meaning she can officiate international matches.
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