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Former Highland League defender and qualified referee Dean McCall steps in to officiate in New Elgin Juniors' cup clash against Deveronside - but the result won't stand

By Craig Christie

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A football coach stepped in to officiate his team's cup victory when the referee pulled up injured - but the result won't stand.

Dean McCall in action for Lossiemouth.
Dean McCall in action for Lossiemouth.

New Elgin's north junior clash at home to Deveronside was in danger of being abandoned after just 90 seconds after ref John Falconer pulled a calf muscle and was unable to continue.

However, the home club had a qualified ref in their ranks as coach and former Lossiemouth defender Dean McCall, who had passed all of his exams with Moray and Banff Referee Association before embarking on his Highland League career.

With both clubs' blessings, McCall took charge of the game. He even awarded Deveronside two penalties, which they scored but New Elgin emerged as 3-2 winners and thought they were in the next round of the cup.

However, the Elgin outfit learned 24 hours later that Deveronside had spoken to the league and a decision was made to make the tie null and void, and replay it on Saturday December 2.

McCall explained: "I think the problem was that I didn’t re-sign with the (Moray and Banff) referees association, so I think that is how the game has been chalked off the record.

"I passed all my refereeing exams about five years ago. It was just before I started playing for Lossiemouth and I did the line in a few junior games.

"When the call came out for a referee, on Saturday, everyone knew that I had done it."

When Falconer sustained his injury soon after kick-off on Saturday, he called North Junior Region FA secretary Chris Auton, who was informed that McCall had the credentials to replace him as man-in-the-middle and was willing to take up the whistle if Deveronside agreed to let him ref the Quest Engineering Cup tie.

The 25-year-old, whose playing career is on hold because of major hip surgery, was given the go-ahead by both teams to officiate or else the game would have to be called off.

McCall stopped refereeing and played four seasons at Lossiemouth, before injury led to him being loaned out to New Elgin. He later signed for the Pinefield club, and recently took on a coaching role as he recovered from major hip surgery.

Dean McCall (left) played four seasons for Lossiemouth. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Dean McCall (left) played four seasons for Lossiemouth. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

"Obviously I couldn't re-sign for the association when I was involved with New Elgin, that’s the reason why the result won’t stand.

"I found it a wee bit strange when both clubs were happy. I am qualified and I couldn’t register with the association within two minutes of kick off so I’m not sure if Deveronside complained, they seemed happy enough with the situation."

McCall said he and New Elgin co-manager Anthony Newlands treated the injured referee. Regular Highland League ref Alan Proctor was in attendance, but is currently out of action due to injury.

"He couldn’t run, he was hobbling around. So he phoned up the league secretary and asked him what the protocols were.

"He asked if there was a qualified referee there, and they told him I was but I was tied to New Elgin. Their boys got wind of it and they were happy enough for me to referee the game and that we could start the game and go with it.

"I told them ‘I’ll say now before we start that I will be fair to both teams and whatever call I make is final’ and they were happy enough. Even at the end of the game, they were still happy, we all shook hands and there wasn’t a problem.

"I awarded three penalty kicks and you couldn’t miss any of them. They were all clear penalties, nothing contentious and it was an easy enough game to referee, not many complaints and a standard enough match for me to referee."

McCall said it was an afternoon he will never forget. "It’s definitely a stand-out in my career, I’ve never been in a situation like that before. I actually enjoyed it, it was something different."

New Elgin recently appointed former Lossiemouth players Stuart Cameron and Anthony Newlands as their co-managers.

New Elgin co-manager Stuart Cameron.
New Elgin co-manager Stuart Cameron.

Cameron said he was disappointed that the result wouldn't stand, denying him and Newlands a first win at the helm.

"There were no linesmen or fourth officials so the game was basically going to get postponed if Dean didn't step in," he said.

"There were no complaints after the game at all, we ended up beating them fair and square.

"It wasn’t until the day after when they made a complaint that someone from our club officiated the game, couldn’t make it a fair game and it’s now been classed as null and void and rescheduled.

"If they had won the game there’s no way they would have put a complaint in. The lads deserved the win, everything was done to them and the way they played the game, so to get it taken off them in that sort of manner is a bit of a shame.

"Grant Noble from Deveronvale is a player coach at Deveronside now and he said Dean had probably officiated the game better than a lot of referees have done at this level so far this season."

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