Leading figure in North of Scotland football refereeing for more than 50 years

Born: February 21 1939;

Died: June 28 2019

Robbie Harrold was a widely respected figure in the world of football refereeing in the north and north-east of Scotland.

Mr Harrold was involved in refereeing at every level of the game since the late 1960s, and remained active in the sport for more than 50 years until retiring as a referees’ observer in 2010.

His football career began in the North Region Juniors, before being promoted in 1972 to Category 3A, a level he held for several years. He travelled all over Scotland, and also to continental Europe as a linesman for one international tie.

A career highlight came in December 1979 when he ran the line at Hampden stadium during the League Cup Final between the two sides that made up the so-called “New Firm”, Dundee United and Aberdeen. That ended in a goal-less draw, with United emerging triumphant as 3-0 winners in a Dens Park replay during the following week.

Mr Harrold became a referees’ supervisor in the three northern regions during three decades, covering North of Scotland, Moray & Banff and Aberdeen & District. His long-standing dedication to the sport was recognised by the Scottish Football Association with a “Services to Football” award on his formal retirement in 2010.

Born in Lossiemouth in 1939, Robbie Harrold attended the town’s junior secondary school, leaving aged 15 to work at Elgin Central Engineers. He enlisted with the Royal Air Force for three years, rather than doing National Service, and became a non-commissioned officer in the service’s police force. On his return to “civvy street” he worked again for Elgin Central for more than 25 years, latterly as parts manager.

Mr Harrold married Kay in Elgin in 1968. They and their two sons moved to Bridge of Don, Aberdeen, in 1984, when he became operations manager with Elbar Oils. He remained in his adopted city until his death, and continued to pursue his interest in football, and particularly refereeing, long after retirement.

A keen amateur player in his younger day, his career as a referee and linesman had blossomed during the 1970s. His duties included running the line at a World Cup qualifier between Romania and Spain at Steau Bucharest’s famous stadium in April 1977. The game took place a month after a devastating earthquake that killed more than 1,500 people at Vrancea. Mr Harrold had vivid memories of the trip, during which he and his colleagues were chaperoned closely by security staff in what was then part of the Eastern bloc. Romania won the game 1-0.

In 1981, Mr Harrold became supervisor of the North of Scotland Referees’ Association, following the formation of the Moray & Banff branch. He served across the north and north-east of Scotland until retirement in 2010. However, even then he continued to serve as part f the local Minor Grades Advisory Panel, until as recently as March this year, reflecting an abiding passion for the development of young referees. His family remember well many Saturday evenings spent typing up reports from games all over the region.

He coached would-be referees at Oldmachar Academy, where fourth and fifth year pupils attended to learn the laws of football and gain insight into the life of a referee. He took a great pride in those who went on to pursue their interests in the sport.

Apart from refereeing, Mr Harrold’s great pastime was his garden. He grew sweet peas but his favourite was the vibrant blue Himalayan poppy, Meconopsis. For many years he enjoyed gathering seed from one year’s harvest, and coaxing growth of a new yield two years later.

Robbie Harrold died at after a brief illness. He leaves a widow, Kay, sons Andrew and Alasdair, daughter-in law Jayne and grandsons Noah and Jacob.