UP-AND-COMING referee James Durkin spoke of his “pride” after a “special” day at Wembley refereeing the National League promotion final.

Dorset’s Durkin, son of renowned ex-Premier League referee Paul, took charge as Bromley advanced to the EFL for the first time in their history, beating Solihull 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

Durkin has risen through the ranks in Dorset, working his way up to become an established National League official and even going abroad to destinations such as the USA to hone his craft.

But he said the magnitude of the occasion at England’s footballing home meant the experience had not yet fully sunk in.

“It was crazy,” he told Echosport.

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“I got the phone call and until you actually get it you don’t know if it’s going to be you.

“How it all worked out, I was literally in the car because I was going to meet dad in Dorchester.

“I got the phone call from The FA, they said: ‘You’re going to Wembley’ and I was like: ‘What?’

“It’s special. All the pre-match stuff, they look after us. We get bussed in under the stadium, you dump your bags and you walk out.

“It’s empty but it’s nuts, it’s hard to put into words. You’re going there to do a job but also to try and enjoy it, celebrate the success of the season.

“It still hasn’t sunk in. I’ve watched it back three or four times on the highlights.

“It’s that overwhelming sense of pride to walk out at the national stadium but just trying to keep a level head. It’s just another National League game.

“But it means so much to both clubs having never been to the Football League, it was going to be massive.”

Dorset Echo: James Durkin, second left, with father Paul and James's mother. Second photo from left: Fourth official Matthew Russell, assistant Andrew Ellis, referee James Durkin and assistant Danny GuestJames Durkin, second left, with father Paul and James's mother. Second photo from left: Fourth official Matthew Russell, assistant Andrew Ellis, referee James Durkin and assistant Danny Guest (Image: JAMES DURKIN)

And Durkin certainly got value for his experience as the play-off went down to penalties.

“The lads who (refereed) it last year went to pens as well,” he said.

“It might be your one and only trip to Wembley, so you want all the time you can get.”

Durkin has already had a taste of the upper echelons of the game, having officiated in League Two, the FA Cup and the EFL Trophy this season.

“This year, the organisation has had a shift since Howard (Webb, referee chief) has come in, where they give more opportunities to people who’ve performed well,” he added.

“So, I’ve done three League Two games and an EFL Trophy game this year, so the next step is promotion onto the Football League.

“There’s usually a selection process and nobody has said anything.

“That’s the next step, to establish myself as a Football League referee. It’s taken five years at National League level to really press on.

“Hopefully it doesn’t take me longer. Until you start refereeing consistently at that next level you don’t really know how it’s going to go.

“But that’s definitely the goal, to get consistent performances on the EFL.”

Durkin is certainly in an advantageous position, with his father Paul having carved out a reputation as one of the finest and most respected referees in Premier League history.

Durkin Senior also officiated at the 1998 World Cup and took charge of the 1998 FA Cup final and the 2003 League Cup final.

“It was special to be able to share the weekend,” he said.

“The National League got my mum and dad tickets in the Royal Box as well as my missus, so they were there watching.

“In the early days, he left me to get on with it. Then, as I progressed through he comes to a few games and we’d run stuff by each other.

“Whether he’s there at the ground or watching at home, he’s been a great support.

“The organisation gives us a coach that we work with and there’s assessors at games, but it’s useful to have that experience at home and to be able to run stuff by him.”

Durkin was joined by assistants Danny Guest and Andrew Ellis, plus fourth official Matthew Russell.

He added: “It was a strong team, we only met each other the night before and we had to form that bond pretty quick.”