by Russell Kempson
Chris Sarginson has a dream. Of sitting in the sun for up to eight hours a day and for perhaps five days in a row; of watching sport of the highest calibre and perhaps partaking in the occasional alcoholic refreshment to enhance his enjoyment; and of listening to a solo trumpeter and perhaps singing along with his fellow tourists.
Sarginson wants to join up with the Barmy Army, the devoted and dedicated followers of the England cricket team on their travels around the globe. He has long been fascinated by the game, especially the elongated Test format, and is desperate to witness it away from home at first hand.
"I'm not so fond of the county game but I just love the international matches," Chris said. "I've seen England rise to No.1 in the world and I'd love to be out there watching them. I've never seen them abroad before so it would be brilliant to be there. Maybe in South Africa or even in the Emirates.
"Australia, for an Ashes series, would be superb but maybe that's a bit far to go. I really fancy going to the West Indies. Everyone is really friendly there, all that sun, a few beers, just chilling out. Perfect. The Barmy Army's support of England, wherever they go, is always fantastic and, when my refereeing is over, maybe I'll treat myself for my 50th birthday. I'd just love to do that."
Sarginson, 44, has a few years yet to wait before he plans his trip of a lifetime to the Caribbean but can already see the end of the refereeing road. "I've probably got four seasons left and, at 48, that will be the right time to retire," he said. "The younger referees are being pushed through quicker these days and that's the way it should be. But I'd like to stay around in some capacity, perhaps as an assessor, because the game has given me so much and I'd like to give something back."
Chris will take with him many fond memories - among them, running the line in the 2005 FA Vase final at White Hart Lane, when Didcot Town defeated AFC Sudbury 3-2, and in the 2005 second division Play-Off final at the Millennium Stadium, when Southend United beat Lincoln City 2-0 after extra time. And his Uefa assignments in Turkey and Denmark, too. "Fantastic experiences, all of them," he said.
All of which has helped to compensate the Staffordshire-based official for having to give up his playing career prematurely due to injury. "It was devastating not to be able to play any more," the former goalkeeper said. "I had surgery on both knees and just couldn't carry on. I still feel it a bit in the cold weather but haven't really had any problems since. I used to run the line for my club on Sunday mornings and everything sort of took off from there. I just wanted to stay involved in the game."
Stay involved he has done, progressing through the Northern Premier League, Southern League and Conference to The Football League line in 2001 - and the Premier League line in 2005 - before taking up the whistle four years ago. "You never stop learning," Chris, a production manager in the motor industry, said. "And to work alongside all our top referees has been really beneficial to me."
But when Chris does pack away his whistle for the last time, there might just be another Sarginson emerging on to The Football League scene. Michael, his 16-year-old son, is taking his first steps on the refereeing ladder and has already received an appointment to take charge of an under-11 cup final in the Lichfield Sunday League.
"Michael's in his first season, at Class 9 level at the moment, but he's due to be promoted to Class 7," Sarginson Sr said. "He got interested in it through me and I've encouraged him all the way. He's done very well so far and I'd love to see him get as far as he can."