A REFEREE recruitment drive is aiming to attract budding Moray whistlers and place them on a pathway to the highest level of Scottish football.
Moray and Banff Referees’ Association hope local ref Douglas Ross’ promotion to specialist assistant referee, which entitles him to take the line at SPL matches, will inspire more people in Moray to sign up for their next course.
The Association begins an eight-week referees’ course this Thursday (March 7) at Elgin City’s Borough Briggs ground, and is keen to attract anyone interested in becoming a match official.
Ross, a Highland League ref who is also Moray and Banff’s secretary, is now qualified to officiate at top Premier League matches, and said the guidance he has received from fellow members has helped him to climb the ranks.
"The help I’ve received locally from match observers and my colleagues in Moray and Banff at training and games has no doubt played a part in my progression and that is one of the best things about refereeing in this area.
"There is a real team ethos and camaraderie amongst the guys and while you hear some negative stories about refereeing our members always support each other, just like team mates do in a football team."
Classes take place in Elgin each Thursday from this week, taking candidates through the 17 laws of the game with coaching using video materials, practical demonstrations and instruction from senior referees in the area.
Ross said his own lack of footballing ability persuaded him to consider refereeing instead, and he is delighted he made the decision to sign up for the course.
"It was a few years ago now that I saw an advert in the local paper looking for people interested in refereeing to give the course a go," he said.
"I had an interest in football but a severe lack of coordination and ability meant I didn’t play. I sat the course and started doing school games, progressing to welfare matches then the local junior leagues.
"I then took the step-up to the Highland League and the SFL as a senior listed official and now I’ll be running the line in the SPL. I would say to anyone who has even just a passing interest in taking up refereeing to sit the course, I’m certain they won’t regret it.
"There is so much football in our area that we are constantly on the look-out for new recruits and there are certainly opportunities for people to officiate at levels far higher than they could be involved in as a player."
Association manager of Moray and Banff Referees, Bill Machray said Ross’s appointment as a specialist ‘linesman’ at the top level of the game was a welcome boost to his local association.
"Douglas has earned his elevation with consistent good performances in matches where he was watched and monitored closely by assessors.
"This proves that referees in our area have the possibility of reaching the top levels of officiating in Scotland and I would encourage anyone out there with an interest in becoming a referee to come along to the new referee introductory class."
Anyone interested in attending the course should contact Douglas Ross on 01343 550048 or e-mail email@example.com