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Young ref Harry Bruce is rising up the Scottish football ranks and is encouraging would-be whistlers to sign up for Moray and Banff's new online introductory course during the Covid-19 lockdown


By Craig Christie

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BUDDING football match officials in Moray are being asked to sign up for Scotland’s first online refereeing introductory course.

Harry Bruce did the refereeing introductory course at the age of 16 and is now officiating at live TV matches in Scotland.
Harry Bruce did the refereeing introductory course at the age of 16 and is now officiating at live TV matches in Scotland.

The Covid-19 pandemic prompted some ‘out of the box’ thinking from the Moray and Banff Referees Association when it came to their latest recruitment drive.

Course co-ordinator Harry Bruce took the introductory course himself, aged 16, and seven years later has been officiating in SPFL and Scottish Cup matches on TV.

Bruce, who followed his father Ally into refereeing, is urging others to take the same step and join the next introductory course, which begins on Monday (May 18).

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“With football being on hold just now and with many folk cooped up in their houses, we thought it would be a good opportunity to run our introductory referee course online to give people something to do at home, and so they have something to look forward to when it’s all over.”

The course will be run over the Zoom video messaging platform, with some of the association’s committee members assisting in leading the course and trying to make it flexible for participants.

“As it stands we are the only association in the country running this type of course online and so far it has caught good interest,” Bruce added.

The course covers the 17 laws of the game with a multiple choice exam at the end. It costs £35, including free membership to Moray and Banff for a year, and is free for any female participants and half price for anyone in full-time education.

Football officiating demands a good level of fitness and Bruce said: “Getting training done in the current climate can be difficult but Scottish FA are providing members with training plans so that they can prepare for the return of the football season whenever that may be.

“There’s no limit as to how far you can go in refereeing. I started young and quickly got to a higher level than I would have got to playing. However, we’ve had some former players join us recently and they’ve quickly grasped taking up the whistle and it changes their outlook on the game. With some hard work and commitment there are great opportunities officiating in football in the north.”

Harry Bruce in action on the Highland League pitch. Photo: Daniel Forsyth
Harry Bruce in action on the Highland League pitch. Photo: Daniel Forsyth

Bruce regularly referees Highland League games and last season officiated in a Championship game at Dunfermline, and Buckie Thistle’s Scottish Cup tie at Bonnyrigg which was screened live by BBC Scotland.

He highlighted Moray and Banff colleague Kevin Buchanan as another example of what can be achieved by starting refereeing.

"We’ve had Kevin join us in the last two years.

"He spent the majority of his time playing in the junior football leagues. He started refereeing at the age of 34 and within two years has found himself at Category 3 development already. There is no limit as to what can be achieved."

To join the course or for more information, visit Moray and Banff’s Facebook page or email: recruitment@mbrefs.com.


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