Sons are the skippers as Letchworth dad marks 50th birthday with testimonial football match

Tom Smith, centre, with his two sons Tom, left, and James.

Tom Smith, centre, with his two sons Tom, left, and James. - Credit: Archant

A sporty dad is marking his half century tomorrow with a testimonial football match – with his sons captaining each of the teams and one of their friends as referee.

Tom Braithwaite, the 18-year-old qualified ref from Stevenage who will oversee the match.

Tom Braithwaite, the 18-year-old qualified ref from Stevenage who will oversee the match. - Credit: Archant

Tom Smith of Sollershott East, Letchworth, will line up alongside younger son Tom tomorrow night, with 18-year-old James leading the other team.

The rest of the players will all be their dad’s age – former team-mates of Tom’s from Ashwell Vets and other sides – and the match will be overseen by Tom Braithwaite, a qualified FA ref at just 18.

“I thought it would be marvellous to play a 50th birthday testimonial game with all my family and friends,” said Tom.

“It seemed like a bit of a different way of doing a 50th birthday party.


You may also want to watch:


“Everyone I have played football with is going to be there.

“It had occurred to me it would probably be the last time I’ll get to play a proper 90-minute, 11-a-side game – and I can’t think of a better way than with both my two boys.”

Most Read

Tom’s choice of playing on his younger son’s side is no mere coincidence – the 14-year-old is a talented goalkeeper on Arsenal’s books.

“I’m going to play on his team as he’s the best keeper,” said dad Tom.

“He’s got a contract at Arsenal until he’s 16.

“It’s James who’s actually an Arsenal fan, though – Tom supports Leeds like me.”

Both of Tom’s sons are pupils at Stevenage’s John Henry Newman School, as is the ref Tom Braithwaite, who is best friends with James.

Referee Tom, pictured left – who as a level 5 official is considered a senior county ref – lives in Stevenage and has refereed many high-profile amateur games in Hertfordshire, including the finals of the Bingham-Cox Cup and the Aubrey Cup.

He also recently oversaw an amateur cup final in Denmark.

Family and friends will be out in force for the testimonial game, but birthday boy Tom says other spectators are more than welcome.

If you fancy coming along, the match starts at 7.30pm at the County Ground off Baldock Road, Letchworth.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter