"I should've sent off Kyle Lafferty"; Celtic supporting former ref lifts lid on SFA career
Self-declared Celtic supporter Steve Conroy, who was a former top referee with the Scottish FA, has lifted the lid on what it’s like to be a whistler in this country.
Conroy, who once took charge of a controversial Celtic vs Rangers game in 2011, has suggested the SFA know exactly who every ref supports even if they don’t declare it.
He even pretended to be a Dumbarton fan to try and avoid scrutiny.
Discussing a 1-1 draw between the two sides more than a decade ago, Conroy admits he should have sent off Kyle Lafferty, telling the Get Involved Referee podcast: “I was nervous as hell the couple of nights leading up to it and could hardly sleep. Until you experience it you have no idea what it’s like. It’s a cliché, but the hairs on my arms and neck were literally standing on end.
“There were a couple of incidents and I’ll admit I got one wrong. I should have sent off Kyle Lafferty but I cautioned him. It was a straight leg challenge on Andreas Hinkel and it should have been a straight red. I was too far up the pitch and I was at the wrong angle so I didn’t see it properly. It was only when I saw it on video later that I realised.”
On the experience of being a Celtic fan while also a referee, Conroy went on to say: “Down south if you have an affiliation with a team, you don’t ref them. Up here we all get into the game to be a ref in top games and being from the west of Scotland the vast majority either support Rangers or Celtic.
“So if we operated the same system as England, who would be reffing the games? You simply can’t declare it – I used to say I was a Dumbarton fan. Somehow the SFA know it. You used to get allocated a lot of pre-season friendlies for the team you supported!”
Conroy inadvertently sums up the absurdity of Scottish refereeing here by admitting that a lot of them do take charge of the teams they support.
Surely the Scottish FA could come up with a more progressive system to ensure that neither Celtic nor Rangers fans take charge of the derby. It’s not as if there aren’t solutions out there.
Regardless, Conroy gives a bit of insight here into how it feels to take charge of massive games in Scotland. If you listen to the podcast, in honesty, it doesn’t sound great!