Pompey fan steps in to answer ref’s SOS

Mike Hurdle holds up the electronic board as Pompey bring Caolan Lavery. Picture: Joe Pepler
Mike Hurdle holds up the electronic board as Pompey bring Caolan Lavery. Picture: Joe Pepler

He only went along to support Pompey but it turns out that the man who stood in as fourth official has plenty of experience in sorting out subs

Mike Hurdle, originally from Fareham, is in the navy and has been based in Plymouth for 10 years, working as a leading engineering technician on HMS Trenchant.

But the Blues season ticket holder swapped his submarine for substitutions when referee James Adcock had to be replaced late in the first half because of a calf injury.

With initial thoughts he may need to go to hospital, the SOS went out as Wayne Barratt took over the whistle.

That left the 28-year-old level seven referee with the task of keeping the benches in check and dealing with the pesky electronic board.

Hurdle said: ‘I went to watch a game of football and ended up being part of the game. But it was brilliant.

‘We were giving the ref a bit of stick for getting injured and then they put the call out over the tannoy for a qualified referee.

‘We thought it was a joke but I spoke to a steward and they told me it was serious so I told them I was a referee.

‘They took me round to meet the referee and he took me into the dressing room.

‘Then I took my coat off to reveal my Pompey shirt. The ref looked at it and said “you can’t wear that out there”. So they gave me a top and jacket but I was okay wearing jeans and trainers.

‘I walked out on to the pitch and the Newport fans were giving me grief. But I was standing near the dugout and I felt 10-feet tall.’

Hurdle admitted he’d had a few second thoughts after putting his name forward and even his wife Alys had not believed his surprising tale.

He said: ‘Paul Cook shook my hand and said “have a good second half”.

‘As I was coming out of the dressing room, I was thinking “what have I done? This is actually real”.

‘I texted the missus when I was walking down to the tunnel and said “I’m refereeing. I’m serious”. She still didn’t believe me.’

With Pompey protecting their slender 1-0 lead going into stoppage-time, Hurdle even had to field complaints from the team he supports.

He said: ‘I put the board up for three minutes of added time and Leam Richardson asked where that had come from.

‘So I explained to him there had been six substitutions and it was 30 seconds per sub.

‘Then after the three minutes, they were telling me time was up – I was thinking “I can’t do anything!”

‘The benches were pretty well-behaved but Paul Cook told me he went easy on me afterwards.’

– STEVE WILSON