Dan McFarlane’s officiating has travelled much further than most referees in Scotland – and he’s not even 19 yet.
McFarlane, a young Aberdeen based referee, was invited to officiate matches in Northern Ireland’s prestigious Foyle Cup tournament. 164 teams from all over the world including Hearts, Hull and Everton America flock to Londonderry to compete for the Foyle Cup, as well as the Foyle Plate, Shield, Vase and Rosebowl.
Referees from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, England and the Netherlands were invited to work at the event and Dan was lucky enough to be part of the Scottish contingent in Ulster.
Dan’s interest in refereeing stemmed from one his high school teachers, Category 1 referee Mat Northcroft, who he discussed getting in to refereeing with before passing his refereeing exam in November 2009. Unfortunately the winter of 2009/10 was notoriously bitter and he was unable to make his refereeing debut until January of 2010.
Only two years later, Dan was invited to referee at the Foyle Cup by the Aberdeen referee association trainer Mike Ritchie.
Dan described the feeling of being at the Foyle Cup as ‘awesome’.
‘It’s very rare to come across the standard of team playing at the tournament, even refereeing for the local boys clubs was a great experience. My first game was Shankill Youth against local side Derry, which was a great experience. After that I took Celtic v Irish Premiership side Coleraine, which was awesome’
After this experience, Dan has his sights set on becoming a Category One referee, taking SPL games and maybe even further.
‘Eventually becoming a Category One referee is the plan. I’m already taking amateur games and this weekend I’ll be refereeing Aberdeen v Celtic at Under 17 level, which is massive for me.
‘There are so many great opportunities for young people wanting to referee in Scotland; there are 23/24 year olds who are already at the second highest level in the country. For young people still at school there is an SQA course in refereeing, but if your school or college doesn’t offer it you can contact your local refereeing association through the SFA website.
‘There is always so much support and advice available for developing referees and there are really super opportunities. Becoming a referee was a great decision, and it’s something I never look back on.’
For more information about becoming a referee in Scotland click here.