A FORMER member of Cirencester College made history during the festive period as he became the first black referee since Uriah Rennie 15 years ago.

Sam Allison, who in the 90s was a member of Cirencester College, said he relished the opportunity to “fly the flag” for black, Asian and mixed heritage referees when he took charge of his first Premier League match on Boxing Day.

Dan Forbes, who is at level four in the referee pathway and works for the BAMREF group which offers guidance, support, mentoring and counselling to black, Asian and mixed heritage refs, said until he saw a Sky Sports interview with Allison four years ago he was aware there were other black officials out there.

He said: “It’s been a long time coming for him and it’s been a long-time ambition as well.

"He totally understands the pressures.

“Sam absolutely deserves to be there, he’s one of the top referees in the country and there’s no doubt Sam will deliver and fly our flag."

Ross Langworthy, sport lecturer and manager of the Cirencester College Football Academy, said: “We are very proud of Sam at Cirencester College, he was a valued member of our Football Academy in the ‘90s, before going on to have a successful career in which he earned contracts with a number of clubs including Swindon Town, Bristol City, AFC Bournemouth, and Exeter City.

"He also made a handful of appearances for England schoolboys and represented Great Britain.

"Supporting the progression opportunities for our students is extremely important to us, and we were pleased to offer fully funded referee qualifications to 10 of our current Sports students and Football Academy members last Summer.

"We continue to wish Sam the best in his career.”