I BLAME all those years of running the line and waving that funny wee tea towel when other folk misbehave. 

You can tell he’s been itching to get out there and stick the boot in himself. 

Oh, I’m a bad boy. I’m going to be a really naughty referee. These mashed potato knees are going to be grinding some face this afternoon. Oh yeah!

And so it was, that when Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross came to open Nicola Sturgeon’s last FMQs, he went off-side in the most deranged manner possible.

There was a time when Tories were toffs. When they looked down on yonder oiks with icily impeccable manners. 

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Mr Ross is not of that caste. He flung himself full-length into the mud and thrashed about like a pig on a bender.

There was something indecently hedonistic about his performance and the outrage it provoked. The part-time linesman had burnt his rule book. 

He clearly didn't give a damn what people thought anymore.

You reckon I should show some respect on her last day? No chance. 

You want me to play nice and look like a grown-up? In your dreams, stinky. 

This was gutter politics and he loved it. 

Ms Sturgeon saw what he was up to, and tried to show some decorum, but in the end the lure of the chaos was too much.

Mr Ross started with a dirty  tackle.

About those SNP membership numbers, the ones that led your husband to resign as party chief executive in disgrace... 

The Nat terraces erupted behind Ms Sturgeon. What the hell was this? Where was the beige praise, the slushy tribute?

But Mr Ross kept at it, noising them up by reminding them the SNP had mislaid 30,000 members and then denied it. 

"Why did Nicola Sturgeon's party - the party of Government in the Parliament - lie to the press and the public?"

The First Minister didn’t bite - but she would talk membership numbers if Mr Ross revealed how few he had.

Her home crowd went wild. “How many members?” screamed Joe FitzPatrick.

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone blew her whistle in vain. Mr Ross just grinned.

"This is an important issue here. They lied. They lied to the press and they lied to the public. That is absolutely clear."

Ms Johnstone nipped him about his language, but his grin only grew madder.

"But I think everyone has accepted that the SNP lied over those figures," he said.

In the ensuing bedlam, Nat backbencher David Torrance asked for a point of order.

Mr Ross's inner ref briefly reappeared.

"You don't have points of order during First Minister’s questions," he snapped.

"Er, I'll decide when we are and aren't taking points of order," said Ms Johnstone.

"The truth is that the SNP as a party did lie," Mr Ross continued, all but mooning at the apoplectic MSPs across the aisle.

"We do not use the word 'lie' in the chamber," an exasperated Ms Johnstone insisted, which was self-evidently untrue. 

The FM again demanded to know the Scottish Tory membership numbers.

"Nicola Sturgeon has started a week early," giggled Ms Ross.

"You get to ask the questions  when you're on the back benches, but in your final FMQs as First Minister you're supposed to answer."

He then lobbed in SNP president Mike Russell describing the party as being in a "tremendous mess".

It is, isn't it? Isn't it? 

Reader, she cracked.

"I'm not the member of this Parliament who missed a veterans event to referee a football match," spat Ms Sturgeon.

Team Nat roared. Back of the net. 

Mr Ross's demented caper was over.  

Later, Ms Sturgeon gave what was billed as an emotional farewell speech.

She croaked and sniffed a bit.

It was about as emotional as hayfever.

Then again, why would you miss Douglas Ross?