AFTER making the annual pilgrimage to the Challenge Cup final for exactly 50 years on the bounce, David Asquith was considering watching today's showpiece on the TV.

But then came a call he couldn't refuse.

A former grade one referee and video ref, Asquith is now on the Rugby Football League's list of match commissioners - and he was given the top job for today's Wembley showdown between Hull and Warrington.

He duly travelled to London from his home in Badger Hill, York, yesterday.

"My father took me down there for the first time in 1965 - Wigan beat Hunslet," said Asquith, who, as well as being a match official, is clearly also a rugby league supporter like the thousands of others who take over Wembley every year.

"No matter who was playing, we always went down. I then started taking my kids and there's been a group of us every year.

"I said I would call it quits at 50 last year - but I'm not going to refuse this."

The 63-year-old rates this appointment as "by far" the pinnacle of his time as a match commissioner, possibly the pinnacle of his time in rugby league - albeit with other contenders.

He was the video ref for the first-ever Super League Grand Final when Wigan beat Leeds at Old Trafford in 1998.

He did that job, too, when the video was first used for a Challenge Cup final at Wembley the following season, Leeds beating London.

Asked which of those ranked higher, he said: "It was always Wembley, because I always wanted to referee at Wembley but missed out - maybe I wasn't good enough.

"With the one at Old Trafford we were in the Sky Sports vans outside. At Wembley I was on the TV gantry with (commentator) Ray French and Jonathan Davies, so I could watch the game and when I got the call I could look at the monitor. If you remember they used the red and green lights system back then, rather than the big screen."

As for his most memorable appointment as a match commissioner, it's a "no-brainer".

"I did England v France last year at Leigh and I did Magic Weekend at the Etihad in Manchester three years ago. I was asked to do Magic Weekend this year as well but I had family commitments," he said.

"But this one is by far the biggest. I'm so proud."

He added: "I still wish I was young enough to referee but obviously now that career is over this is the pinnacle really."

Asquith, an area manager for a book publisher during the week, refereed his first rugby league match in March 1979, the same year he moved to York from his birthplace in Batley.

"It was the Pennine League - a division seven match between Britannia Works, of Huddersfield, and Shaw, from Oldham," he recalled, delving into an almost encyclopedic memory. "Shaw were (former Great Britain star) Iestyn Harris' old club."

From Pennine League division seven to Wembley.

Having worked through the ranks as a ref, Asquith's first top-tier fixture came in the 1989-90 season, and thereafter followed 169 more appointments as the man in the middle for matches in the old Divisions One and Two, plus many more as a touch judge.

Apparently the only place he ever got applauded was at Batley - "because I was dragged up there and everyone knew my dad".

"I kept a record of every game I refereed and touch judged," he said.

"My last season was the first summer season, 1996. I had a dickie knee so I had to stop, but they put me on the list of video referees."

The match commissioner is likewise part of the officials' team. He makes sure things are in place for games to go ahead without issue, checks for things like squad changes and colour clashes, liaises with match doctors, and afterwards files reports to the RFL.

Asquith explained: "It's basically the eyes and ears of the RFL at a match, taking away some of the problems from the referee so he can focus on the game."

His next appointment after Wembley? York City Knights v London Skolars in League One a week tomorrow.

AS for today's match itself, Gareth Ellis, whose long illustrious career began as a reserve at York Wasps, having previously been a junior at Selby Warriors, will be hoping it's a case of third time lucky.

Hull FC skipper Ellis has appeared in two finals previously but is yet to lift the treasured silverware.

He first tasted defeat while a Leeds player in 2005, when they were shocked by underdogs Hull - his current employers - at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. That was when Danny Brough, in his first season in Super League after setting goals and points records at York, memorably kicked the winning points.

Ellis also lost the 2013 final with the Black and Whites against Wigan at Wembley.

The 35-year-old veteran was rested for last week's Super League win over Catalans Dragons but has unsurprisingly been recalled.

THERE could be a few ex-Knights (if not fully-fledged ex-Knights) featuring at Wembley today.

Dean Hadley (10 York appearances), Jordan Thompson (5), Josh Bowden (3), Jamie Shaul (3) and Chris Green (7), who all had (generally brief) loan or dual-reg spells at Huntington Stadium, are in Hull's 19-man squad.

Apparently Bowden will be pretty thrilled to go under the Arch, too, according to a pre-match Q&A interview with Shaul on the RFL website.

When asked which of his team-mates was most excited about playing at Wembley, Shaul said: "Probably Josh Bowden – he absolutely loves rugby league and hasn’t stopped taking about it since we got there."

THERE is one notable omission, however, when it comes to York links at Wembley today. It's a bit of personal heartbreak too.

Tom Lineham - who began his pro career at the Knights in 2009, becoming their then youngest-ever player aged 17 years 301 days - has missed out on a cup final appearance for a second time having been left out of Warrington's 19-man squad.

The first time had come with Hull in 2013 when, having scored a memorable long-range try in their semi-final win over the Wolves, he had to sit out the final against Wigan due to injury.

Lineham, 24, the one-time York RUFC junior, first switched codes while at York College and was quickly spotted by the Knights' coaching staff.

He went on to join Hull in 2011 for nothing - he had a clause in his York contract allowing him to move for free if a Super League club came in for him. He made the switch to the Wolves this season for a significantly pricier £125,000, but, despite 13 tries in 19 appearances this term, hasn't played for the first team for over a month, his last outing being on dual-reg for the Knights' League One promotion rivals Rochdale against Barrow four weeks ago.

KNIGHTS loanee Brandon Westerman will likely be more than an interested spectator of today's big game, due to family ties.

Westerman's cousin, Joe, who made the same switch as Lineham from Hull to Warrington this season, is in the Wire squad and, having passed a late fitness test, is set to go up against his former club in what will be his second Wembley final appearance.

The 26-year-old, like Ellis, was on the losing side when Hull fell 16-0 to Wigan at Wembley in 2013.

Like Castleford youngster Brandon, Joe began his pro career with the Tigers before moving to Hull.