IN the ongoing battle to preserve their ailing reputation, Scottish match officials have found an unlikely ally in Darian MacKinnon.

The Hamilton Accies captain is no stranger to our referees as 76 yellow cards and five red cards in six-and-a-half seasons will testify, but it is those who choose not to speak to him, rather than those who do and have, that he has most cause to grumble about.

Despite the scrutiny they find themselves under after a series of high-profile errors, MacKinnon has sympathy for the officials, and admitted most have a human side that is rarely seen by the public.

“I think they do a good job,” the 33-year-old said. “Some of the decisions are bad but they are also getting highlighted more. Our refs are not full time like down south – and I’m pretty sure they still make bad decisions down there. The ones that speak to you, those are the ones you like. Andrew Dallas, Willie Collum, Bobby Madden, and John Beaton – guys like that. They might make bad decisions but they will speak to you. Sometimes they’ll say, ‘listen, I watched it back, I got it wrong and I’m sorry’.

“There are one or two you don’t particularly like because they don’t really speak to you like a professional. It’s more as if they’re a schoolteacher and that gets your back up. Or they say, ‘get out my face’. See all that stuff? I know it shouldn’t annoy you but it does and makes you think, ‘right, I don’t like this guy’.”

There has been a growing clamour for Video Assistant Referees (VAR) to be introduced into Scottish football to aid the decision-making process but MacKinnon feels it would reduce it as a spectacle.

“I can understand why they want to introduce VAR, especially at the highest levels where there’s so much money involved,” he said. “But I quite like the controversy. You see Rangers getting a goal that should have been given offside at Hearts, and then they didn’t get one at Dundee that they should have. If we didn’t have these incidents people would have nothing to talk about.

“You want all that mad stuff. Obviously you don’t want referees getting slaughtered every week but these incidents are what make the game what it is. It’s just human error from refs, and players are the same. If you watch me on a Saturday I’m pretty sure I’m giving the ball away plenty times. The refs are just unfortunate that they’ve got 22 people plus the managers going for them if they made a bad decision.”

MacKinnon, who revealed he wants to finish his career at Accies, will lead his side out at Ibrox this afternoon looking to bring about a repeat of last year’s 2-0 win over Rangers. Hamilton could do with a tonic after successive defeats to Dundee and Hibernian.

“We’re going to have to get a win from somewhere and what better place to go than get three points at Ibrox,” added the captain. “When you go there, you need your goalkeeper to play well. You need your luck and bit of quality as well so you’re just hoping someone steps up. You have to stay 0-0 for the first 20 minutes, then you obviously start to play your way into the game. If you lose a goal in that time then you can’t crumble or it’s a real tough afternoon for you.”

Manager Martin Canning delivered a similar message.

“When you go to Ibrox or Parkhead in front of 50 or 60,000 fans, things have got to go right for you and not quite so right for them,” he put it succinctly.