UPHOLDING the law on a football pitch as a referee came naturally to Elgin bobbie Harry Bruce.
And the 21-year-old, who made the transition from goalkeeper to whistler when he joined his local Moray and Banff Referees Association, is encouraging others to do the same.
With Moray and Banff hosting an introductory course beginning on February 1, the time is right for anyone interested in becoming a ref to sign up for the programme.
Bruce began refereeing when he was still a player in Elgin City's youth ranks, doing school games before stepping up this year to Scottish Cup and Betfred Cup ties.
"In May I was lucky enough to receive a promotion to category 3 meaning I now referee Highland League matches regularly and get assistant referee appointments in the SPFL," he said.
"It's been a great achievement to reach this level at my age and in only five years. I would only encourage others to do the same as it shows the scope for progression in the north of Scotland."
Football in Moray desperately needs more referees, with a shortage of new recruits in recent years leading to local matches being postponed on a regular basis.
Bruce said his own experience of joining the association has been a rewarding one, with social and promotional benefits.
"Whether your looking for a way to get fit, a way to get involved in football or remain involved in the game, refereeing is a great option," he said.
"There is also a social aspect to officiating. Referees often go out in teams and it's a great way to meet new people. Training and meetings happen regularly also and there's a great mix of ages.
"Many people seem to turn down the thought of refereeing because they associate it with abuse. I wouldn't lie and say it doesn't happen, but it certainly isn't as bad as I perceived it to be and definitely isn't something that puts me off.
"It needs to be acknowledged that without us there wouldn't be football matches. This last year especially in the welfare, there has been a number of games called off due to lack of officials and it's a shame to see the grass roots level suffer.
"Referees are definitely required and it would be great to see other youngsters, ex-players or anyone pick up the whistle."
The introductory course is open to anyone aged 16 and over and runs for eight weeks at a venue dictated by interest.
For more information contact recruitment co-ordinator Darren Westmacott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07979 002827 or association secretary John Black at email@example.com or 07713 358554).