A short tribute to mark the retirement of George Smith

By Martin Clark, Mark Doyle, Calum Murray and Paul Reid

George Smith has intimated his retirement as a Referee Observer. This brings to an end 58 years of active involvement in refereeing. In due course, the Management Committee will discuss the most appropriate way to mark Mr Smith’s unprecedented contribution to our Association and to Scottish refereeing more generally.

George Smith in action

Many members will know Mr Smith only as a Referee Observer. It was, however, as a referee that he first made his mark and assembled a refereeing CV that, for an Edinburgh referee, is unlikely to be surpassed. Largely due to his own modesty, it is little talked of these days. But it seems appropriate to set out some of the highlights to place his career, and news of his retirement, in its proper context. Having passed his entrance examination in August 1961, Mr Smith was promoted to Category 1 in 1971. He was first nominated as a FIFA referee in 1974 (at the then remarkably early age of 31) and served continuously between 1978 and 1991. He was regularly appointed to European club matches, including the 1989 quarter final, second leg between AC Milan and Werder Bremen (a match featuring the likes of Maldini, Van Basten, Gullit and Carlo Ancelotti). On the international stage, he was appointed to the Finals of the FIFA World Student Games (1987) and the FIFA World Youth Tournament (1989). But the pinnacle of his career arrived in 1990 with his appointment to referee at the World Cup Finals in Italy. He remains the only Edinburgh official to have been appointed to referee at a World Cup Finals.

Domestically, his achievements are similarly without rival. He was, in 1980, the first Edinburgh referee to take change of the Scottish Cup Final (an Old Firm Final, no less; he ran the line on the final 12 years earlier). He went on to referee the finals of 1988 and 1990 (the latter was the first to be decided by penalties; the only other final decided that way being the 2006 final, which was the next to be referee by an Edinburgh referee, his prodigy D G McDonald). That tally of refereeing three Cup Finals is the same as the rest of the Association put together! In 1988 and 1989, Mr Smith also refereed the Scottish League Cup Final. It almost goes without saying, that throughout his time at Category 1, he was a regular feature of the biggest games in the country.

George Smith

In August 1992, Mr Smith retired from active refereeing and in November 1992 was appointed to what is now known as the Referee Committee. He served on the Referee Committee for 15 years. Removal of the mandatory retirement age of 70 extended his time in the stand, which concluded earlier this week with his retirement. During that time, referees throughout Scotland, but most particularly within our Association, have benefitted greatly from his advice, experience, support and friendship.

That is only a summary of an unprecedented career. Fuller tributes will be paid at the November meeting. But it hopefully gives some context to a career that this Association is unlikely to see matched. And after 58 years, we all wish Mr Smith a very well earned, much deserved and happy retirement.

Why should I become a Futsal Referee?

On 3rd December the SFAR Edinburgh and District will hold a Futsal Conversion course at the Oriam, Heriot Watt. This course consists of some classroom learning for a couple hours and an exam. We are also going to host a local Futsal team so we can see officials in action. On the evening FIFA Futsal Referee Gordon McCabe will also be there to assist with the course. To sit the Futsal conversion course you just have to be a fully paid member within the Scottish FA. Why would you want to sit the course though and what would you gain?

We have asked Dominic Falconer about his experience as a Futsal Official…

Futsal Just five aside right? Not at all it’s a sport in its own right, think 11 aside laws, played on a court indoors with 5 players and you’re a little closer to understanding it. Don’t get me wrong that’s exactly what I thought it was before passing the conversion course back in 2015. Since then I’ve grown a far better understanding of the sport , played (well attempted) a couple of games and progressed to levels that never thought possible whilst sitting in a Tynecastle high classroom with around 20 other referees.
Futsal originated in Uruguay around the 1930s, with similar laws to association football, the main differences are:
• Smaller low bounce ball (usually size 4)
• Played indoors on a hard surfaced court delimited by lines
• 4 second count at restarts (goal clearance, corners and kick ins)
• 5 players 1 of which is the goalkeeper
• Unlimited substitutions
• Timeouts (1 per team per half)
• No Offside
I’ve officiated countless games at different venues in different cities all over Scotland. All in different situations you wish/want to be involved with whilst refereeing for example, promotion/relegation battles, top of the table clashes, semi finals, finals, Scottish cup the list is endless.

I’m thankful that Gordon McCabe (Scotland’s first FIFA Futsal Referee) and our fellow colleagues in Perth took me under their wing in the early stages of my futsal refereeing career, and actively encouraged me to cover games with them in the Perth league. Without their support and knowledge that early in my Futsal career I don’t think I’d be where I am today. With the help and support of colleagues from all over the country I’m delighted and honoured to say that I have been involved in some of the high profile matches within Scotland, also given the opportunity to officiate alongside them at the First ever SFL playoff event in the same season I started refereeing Futsal. I was then selected as Referee 2 for Scotland’s first ever Scottish Futsal Cup final and the same season standing alongside Gordon and our colleagues in a UEFA Sanctioned friendly between Scotland and Gibraltar as fourth official. I’ve been extremely lucky with the opportunities I have received, but it also goes to show that they are there if you work hard, show determination and willing to grasp them.

We are however short of qualified officials within the Edinburgh area, especially now the league runs from 2 venues. There is a conversion course coming up in Edinburgh on the 3rd December. I’d highly recommend it as personally it’s one of the greatest things I’ve done and the achievements are there to see and for anyone who wants them.

If you would like more information on the upcoming class or to register please get in touch secretary.edra@gmail.com

Regional Training Day – October 2018

As mentioned at our meeting on the 30th August, there will be a local Regional Training day on 7th October.

For those who were not in attendance at the meeting, the training day will take place on Sunday October 7th @ The Oriam and Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. This will be with our colleagues from the Fife, Lanarkshire and Stirlingshire Associations. The Association would however also like to stress the importance of the day, primarily as it is designed specifically for referees operating in Grassroots football. From previous experience, the content of the day has been excellent, allowing you to get involved and also gain from learning from our top officials.

In order to assist, Mark Doyle has kindly agreed with some of our senior referees to take charge of fixtures on the day, thus allowing everyone the perfect opportunity to attend this extremely worthwhile day.
In order that we can regularly update the referee department with regards to numbers attending, Martin Clark will be keeping a register and would therefore ask you to book your place ASAP and e-mail him (cc’ing in Mark Doyle) at your earliest.

This is an excellent day and not one to be missed!

Scottish Centre of Refereeing Excellence (SCORE)

Last month you may have seen us post on social media about our Scottish Centre of Refereeing Excellence (SCORE) candidates. We recently had two of our members complete the programme and another two selected to start.

First of all you might be asking what SCORE is? SCORE is a programme ran by the Scottish FA Referee Operations department in collaboration with Heriot Watt University, has helped to identify and develop talented referees and assistant referees through intensive coaching, observation and training. It has provided the referees with opportunities to obtain one to one coaching and training from experienced coaches. Aside from the refereeing benefits, it has also exposed the officials to a number of academic topics which has helped them manage and deliver their matches successfully.

Recently David Doig and Simon Maclean completed their course which they started back in June 2016, so we sat down and asked them how their journey was…

David Doig

Being a part of SCORE’s first year with a focus driven towards assistant refereeing was a huge privilege, and having now successfully completed the course and reflecting back it was a great experience.

Having a current FIFA official as my Coach for the last two seasons has been invaluable, by being able to learn from his experiences and having the opportunity to discuss incidents occurring from my own matches, or, any other clips we could find from around the world.

The academic side of the course also gave us the opportunity to further explore different areas that have an effect on refereeing, and by having a deeper understanding we could develop these skills into our training or matches.

Simon Maclean

The SCORE programme has been a great opportunity to develop as an official. It has undoubtedly been hard work, but at the same time has been a highly motivating context for learning, and a privilege to be a part of.

Having games filmed on a regular basis, and the subsequent access to high quality footage, has provided an invaluable opportunity for self-analysis and improvement.

Allied to the opportunity to receive coaching and guidance from top level assistant referees, this has allowed me to develop both skills and confidence as an assistant referee.

The regular get togethers as a SCORE group, and the physical and practical training sessions from top referees and assistants, have also been of great benefit and highly motivating.

The academic course proved interesting and allowed me to look at some aspects of officiating in a new way, and gain further insight into my practice.

Congratulations to both on completing their course and we look forward to seeing their refereeing careers progress. We also announced last month that two new candidates had been selected from Edinburgh and District, Craig Ferguson and Daniel Graves. The Association and both David and Simon wish them both every success on their SCORE journey and can’t wait to see where it takes them.

Calum Murray – Pre Season note

The 2018-19 Season domestically has commenced and just a short note to wish all members well for the Season ahead.

2017-18 was a particularly busy and successful Season for the Association at all levels and saw the continued development of our young Officials and the servicing of the game from the Grass Roots level upward. A lot of hard work continues to go on behind the scenes and it is clear that this groundwork is assisting with the further promotion/s onto the Senior List ( Cat 3 ) of Jonathan Gall, Stephen Wilson and Chris Newman. The Female Referee numbers also continue to rise which is also very encouraging, as was some very well deserved positive movement and a further Season’s experience under the belt for those aspiring to progress further in their refereeing.

Whilst the World Cup will have thrown up many talking points, particularly on the use of VAR, it has again in my opinion showcased the fitness levels of the Elite Referees and I would again encourage you all to take advantage of the unique facilities at the Association’s disposal and to continue to work as hard as possible to ensure you are as fit and well prepared for the Season ahead as possible. The LotG changes are thankfully minimal this year, mainly encompassing the use of Video assistance, but nevertheless important as way of a refresher to run through and review the Laws regularly given the changes over the past few Seasons.

Martin, Mark and the respective Association ‘Teams’ continue to look at a number of initiatives to assist the membership on and off the park and, like myself, are available to discuss any aspect of your refereeing that may arise during the course of the Season ahead.

Good luck and enjoy the challenge.


Mock Fitness Test’s

Please see below message from Association Manager, Martin Clark and Assistant Association Manager, Mark Doyle

All Cat 3D – Cat 1’s

In view of the fact that the official test for Cat 3D through to Cat 1 will be scheduled by the Referee department to take place in June, it was felt appropriate to give everyone in these categories the opportunity to take part in a ‘Mock’ test.

We have therefore arranged for a ‘Mock’ fitness test to take place @ Craigswood on Tuesday the 15th May.

In order to arrange the various times / groups we (Mark and I) would be most obliged if you could confirm whether you intend to be in attendance or not by 11th May.

Could you please reply to both of us in this respect.

All Cat 4D’s & 4.s

I can confirm that the official test, due to take place for ALL Cat 4D’s and 4’s in June will be held @ Craigswood Sports Centre on Tuesday the 5th June

Could ALL Cat 4D’s and Cat 4’s please confirm their attendance to both Mark and I at their earliest convenience.

Note: Those who cannot attend the official test (as above) will of course be advised of alternative dates and venues when released by Drew Herbertson, thus allowing them to complete the mandatory test to allow for inclusion on the list of referees for season 2018//19.

Regional Training Day – May 2018

As mentioned at our meeting on the 5th April, I write to you all to reiterate the benefits of you attending the 1st Regional Training Day of the calendar year.

For those who were not in attendance at the meeting, The Training Day will take place on Sunday May 20th @ The Oriam and Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh.

Whilst notification of this excellent event has been posted on the Referee Extranet, I also attach a copy of a self-explanatory message from John Fleming (Head of Referee Operations).

I would however also like to stress the importance of the day, primarily as it is designed specifically for referees operating in Grassroots football (YOU).

From previous experience, the content of the day has been excellent, allowing you to get involved and also gain from learning from our top officials.

In order to assist, Mark Doyle has kindly agreed with some of our senior referees to take charge of fixtures on the day, thus allowing everyone the perfect opportunity to attend this extremely worthwhile day.

In order that I can regularly update the referee department with regards to numbers attending, I will be keeping a register and would therefore ask you to book your place ASAP and e-mail me at your earliest.

This is an excellent day and not one to be missed.

All e-mails should be sent to Martin Clark with a copy to Mark Doyle.


Martin Clark
Association Manager

Regional Training Day invitation

2017 Highlights – SFAR Edinburgh and District

Firstly can I thank Vikki for pulling together the highlights of what has been a great year for our Association, be it the number of new entrants to have successfully passed their referee exam and began their refereering career right through to Gavin Duncan receiving his first Scottish Premiership referee appointment and Fiona and Emma refereeing their first national cup finals.

As you will see there have been many achievements and milestones but I hope each one of you can look back on the year with a sense of satisfaction and that you have met or gone some way to achieve some of the goals you may have set and I would therefore encourage you to take the opportunity to set some new ones for the year to come no matter what stage we are at

It has of course been a year of change with the adoption of the new constitution and the way that the association is both governed and the frequency that we meet. It will take time for this to fully develop but the early signs are encouraging given the healthy numbers we see attending training, coming along to meetings as well as taking advantage of the numerous opportunities to develop through coverage by our development team and our development academy meetings.

On behalf of Martin and I we would like to wish you and your family a Happy, successful and prosperous New Year and look forward to seeing you in the weeks ahead.

Mark Doyle
Assistant Association Manager
SFAR Edinburgh and District

2017 Highlights
Referee Awareness course in Jan 2016
In January we held our referee awareness course which was aimed at Females. We had a great attendance and even had two continue onto the full course! The day is a short course which includes an interactive session! We are looking forward to our upcoming course in January 2018 which again is aimed at females. Thanks to @sfa_southeast for supporting!

La Manga
At the end of January our top referees went to the Scottish FA winter training camp in La Manga! Below is a photo of them before one of the training sessions.

Tournaments Abroad
This year a number of our referees and development advisers had the opportunity to attend tournaments abroad these have included locations such as, France, Netherlands, China, Portugal and United Arab Emirates…

Women’s League Cup Final
Back in May Emma Hingant and Vikki Allan officiated at the Women’s League Cup Final, Celtic v Hibernian. This match was live on BBC Alba.

Diversity and Inclusion
Back in March we got involved by sharing a post to celebrate International Women’s Day. At the Edinburgh and District Association we have a dedicated Women’s team who look to increase recruitment and retention of Female referees at the Association. We are very lucky that we have some great female members, who have had some fantastic appointments in 2017!

We also got involved with the @ScottishFA_YAOC raising awareness of Cerebral Palsy Month in which our referee Cameron Conner shared his blog on his achievements in Football. At the Edinburgh and District Referees we want refereeing to be inclusive to all and what Cameron has achieved through football shows this in his blog!

In June, Vikki Allan one of our female referees went to Tanzania with Morag Pirie from the Aberdeen Association to be Assistant Referee in a World Record breaking football match on the top of Mt Kilimanjaro. This was an initiative with Equal Playing Field to raise awareness of gender equality in sports. Check out the documentary from their trip

First Premiership Appt
A more recent highlight was our referee Gavin Duncan having his first Premiership appointment in the middle which we are sure there are many more to come!!

Seminars & Training
Thanks to our Trainers and development advisers for a great year of training and development as well. We train every week with our trainers and they keep us in great shape. Our Development advisors also go to our games week in and week out to give us advice to make sure we are the best referees we can be. We also run seminars throughout the year such as the Assistant Referee Seminar back in March which included a practical and video analysis sessions.

UEFA Tournaments
Back in February a number of our members were appointed to the U16 UEFA Women’s and Men’s Development Tournaments at the ORIAM. This was a great opportunity for our referees to work with some of the up and coming players from across Europe!

Social Side
At the Edinburgh and District Association we also have a great Social team who organise events throughout the year for our refereeing family! These have included great events such as go karting, regular get togethers, FootGolf, Annual Charity Quiz and our flagship event the Annual Dinner! In January we presented the Sick Kids Foundation with a cheque for £1250 from the Charity quiz in 2016, we can’t wait to present the cheque to them in February for our recent Quiz which we blew last year’s total out the water with!! (Total to be announced when we present the cheque!)

Our FIFA Development Assistant Referee David Doig also had the fantastic opportunity to attend UEFA CORE this year in Switzerland. This course focuses on match preparation, player management, control of the game, tactical awareness and fitness training, combined with practical exercises and mental preparation.

Scottish Youth Cup Final
Back in April our referee Kevin Lindsay was appointed to be Assistant Referee at the Scottish Youth Cup Final Celtic v Rangers. This was streamed live on YouTube.

This year has also seen some referees hang up their whistles at the SFAR Edinburgh and District. Billy Connor and Jim Sim both retired this year from our Association, both had great careers and a love of refereeing which I am sure they are both now giving back to the up and coming referees at the Association.

Billy in his last year of refereeing donated all of the money he earned from refereeing to MacMillan Cancer Care; we believed this was a fantastic thing to have done so when he retired the Association also made a donation on his behalf. His total was over £2000 raised for the charity!

Another referee who retired this year was our Category One Referee Crawford Allan. After many years on the Senior list he decided it was time to retire. He has recently now been appointed as an Scottish FA Referee Observer.

Women’s Scottish Cup Final
In November Fiona Morton and Iain Snedden officiated at the Women’s Scottish Cup Final, Hibernian v Glasgow City. This match was live on BBC Alba.

Annual Awards Dinner
This year we decided to mix up our Annual Dinner and turn it more into a Celebration of the Achievements from the Association. Many awards were presented that evening for Cup finals and commitment to refereeing. Congratulations again to all who received. One of the awards we presented that evening was to Rev. Frank Campbell for his commitment to being an Assistant Referee in the Juniors, sadly Frank passed away in November. We are glad at the Association that we got to celebrate Franks commitment and that he will be remembered for this.

Video from Dinner
At the Dinner we also shared a video of achievements from the season. You can view this on our homepage.

This year also saw Ryan Lee and Iain Snedden gain entry on the SCORE (Scottish Centre of Refereeing Excellence) programme which is the Scottish equivalent of CORE for our up and coming referees. This for looking at areas such as match preparation, player management, control of the game, tactical awareness and fitness training, combined with practical exercises and mental preparation.

Another highlight was Peter Stuart being promoted to Cat1D. He was rewarded for all his hard work and subsequently given the opportunity to advance to the top level in Scottish Football.

International Appointments
Throughout the year the Association has also had a number of International Appointments. Our FIFA Development Assistant Referee David Doig had a number of fantastic appointments including Club Athletico de Madrid v Chelsea and Manchester City v Feyenoord in UEFA Youth Leagues. Our Female FIFA Assistant Referee Vikki Allan also had a number of appointments abroad in World Cup Qualifiers and Champions League.

Referee Course
During the year we run 2 referee classes one in February over 5 Sundays and the other in August over 10 Monday evenings. This is the full course which will allow you to become a qualified Scottish FA referee. This year alone we have had 48 pass the course which is fantastic!! We also had 6 pass the advance course! Look out for adverts on our upcoming class soon or for more info see Become a Referee page.