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Breaking new ground - Lorraine Watson becomes first female referee in Scottish men's football

11 September 2017

Breaking new ground - Lorraine Watson becomes first female referee in Scottish men's football

Lorraine Watson - the first woman to officiate a senior men's game in Scottish football © BBC

Lorraine Watson made history when she took charge of Edinburgh City's 1-0 win over Berwick Rangers in League Two at the weekend, becoming the first woman to ever referee a senior men's game in Scottish football.

The 32-year-old is no stranger to making the headlines and in 2013 she became the first woman to officiate at Ibrox, running the line at Rangers' game against Berwick Rangers in front of 45,000 fans. This came barely a week after Lorraine refereed Hill O'Beath's match with Bonnyrigg Rose in front of 200 supporters.

Now the building surveyor from Thornton in Fife hopes that her emergence in the professional ranks will encourage young female officials to "aim higher than they ever have before".

Speaking to BBC Scotland after her historic appearance where a goal by former Millwall striker Ashley Grimes secured a 1-0 win for City, Lorraine enthused: "The more it happens, the more normal it will become.

"The more people see it, the more chance we have of young ones coming through and maybe aiming that bit higher than they ever had before."

Reflecting back on the game at Ainslie Park itself, she said that the players did not make an issue of her debut.

"It was brilliant. There was absolutely no reaction, they just treated me the same as they would any other referee," Lorraine added.

"When they disagreed with decisions, they shouted at me just the same as if it was a male in the middle.

"As a referee, it doesn't matter if you're male, female or any other difference in you, if the teams and supporters aren't happy with your decisions, they will pick up on something - and unfortunately if you happen to be a female, that's generally what they pick up on first - and they'll make comments regarding that.

"But it all goes back to the decisions made on the field. If you're there and have a good game, you're going to get minimum dissent, just the same as any male would."

Having also officiated at the Women's U19s European Championships as well as the Women's Champions League, Lorraine is currently bidding to attain full Scottish FA category one status. This would allow her to referee matches as high as Scotland's top flight.

"Everyone starts as category seven, you get assessed in your games and work your way up," she explained. "Just now I'm category one development - that's 15 years I've been refereeing, so it's not just happened overnight, it's been like a long-flow apprenticeship.

"You start off at the youth, go to the amateur, junior, then into the seniors. You really do start at the bottom and work your way up.

"I'm hoping to have a few League Two matches this year. You get assessed at each of these games along with some junior games, and the committee will decide if you're able to go up to the next level.

"The next level for me would be category one, and if I was category one it would open the door for me to do anything up to the Premiership."

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