Umpires fly the flag for England

Lee Barron and his colleague in the lead up to the Indoor World Cup Final 2015

With neither the women’s nor the men’s national teams featuring at the recent Indoor World Cup in Leipzig, the event may well have passed under the radar of many hockey fans in this country.

There was, however, English representation in the form of top NPUA umpires, Lee Barron and Frances Block. Being appointed to the tournament was in itself an accomplishment but going on to umpire the men’s and womens finals represented a magnificent achievement.

Coming on the back of umpiring the Hockey 5s Women’s Final at the SSE Arena, Wembley, this was Frances’ second Indoor World Cup, the first being in Poznan in 2011. On that occasion, she was also appointed to umpire the Final, also contested by Holland and Germany. Paying tribute to her family for all their support, Frances said: “It was an amazing experience. The atmosphere was sensational and to umpire a final which involved the host nation was just incredible. I am very lucky”. Luck may well have played a part, but her commitment, ability and expertise ensured she made the final.

This was Lee’s first Indoor World Cup and followed on from a number of recent high profile indoor matches, including the Asian Cup Final and the Hockey 5s Men’s Final.

Like Frances, Lee umpired a total of 8 matches in 5 days, including the opening game of the tournament.

For Lee, the appointment to the Final represented the pinnacle of his career to date, a career that started 22 years ago when he first combined playing with umpiring for his club, Sheffield Bankers.

“The game seemed to go so fast”, said Lee. “The noise was incredible in the hall, with 5,000 hockey fans cheering regardless of who they’d come to support. As the first Englishman, and first Yorkshireman to umpire an Indoor World Cup Final, I couldn’t be prouder”.

Reflecting on the pair’s achievements, Paul Box-Grainger, NPUA’s Chairman of Selectors, commented: “We are all incredibly proud of Frances and Lee – I believe that it is an unprecedented achievement for two umpires from the same nation to umpire both indoor finals. They deserve huge credit, as do all who are involved in the domestic umpiring programme. It also continues the welcome trend over recent years whereby English umpires, both outdoor and indoor, are increasingly getting appointed to high profile major matches”.

England Hockey would like to extend their congratualtions to both umpires on their excellent achievement.