Late in the first half of Portsmouth’s League Two match at Newport County, the referee got hurt and could not continue. So the fourth official had to replace him, but who would replace the fourth official? That proved to be a problem.
A call was put out over the public address system asking if there were any qualified officials in the house and 28-year-old Portsmouth season ticket holder and level seven referee Mike Hurdle answered the call, giving him the story of a lifetime.
From Portsmouth News:
“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, who is an engineering technician on a submarine, added that as he walked down the tunnel to the pitch for the start of the second half, which he would now be a part of, he texted his wife, saying, “I’m refereeing. I’m serious.” But she didn’t believe him.
Making the whole experience even more surreal, Hurdle ended up being the target of Pompey’s indignation over the amount of injury time since they had a 1–0 lead going into the final minutes.
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!’”
It all worked out for Portsmouth and Hurdle, though, as they held on for the 1–0 away win, thus giving him the best answer to “What did you do over the weekend?” of anyone on his submarine.