Darren the Ref

ALL four of today's officials are serving armed forces personnel.

Referee Darren Drysdale is a Sergeant at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, whose tours of duty include a four-month deployment in Iraq, along with wife Wendy, a Corporal in HR recruitment preparing the UK troops for the front-line.

"It was probably the lowest point in my life," he recalls.

"I processed the prisoners of war, and the bombs were dropping left, right and centre. You just couldn't help but wonder, has the next one got my name on it?' You couldn't see an end to it.

"Every day felt like three days. It was very stressful."

Saturday’s assistants Declan Ford and Dave Woolford are Army officers, as is fourth official Steve Finch.

Declan is a Staff Sergeant with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, while David is a Captain from the Royal Engineers. Steve is a sergeant with the Royal Logistics Corps.

Today’s referee says his career high was assisting Graham Poll in the 2000 FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Aston Villa.

"I watched the finals as a kid," Drysdale said, "and to be able to one day walk up to the Twin Towers; well, it was like Roy of the Rovers.”

“I’ll treasure that moment forever.”

More recently, this season, Drysdale has shown 87 yellow cards and sent eight players off, with three of the seven red cards occurring when Southend beat Mansfield by three goals in November.

Darren has officiated Argyle twice at Home Park since joining the Football League’s list of referees, with a 3-0 victory over Norwich City in November 2007, when two goals in the first four minutes of the second half from Paul Connolly and David Norris killed off Norwich.

The most recent game Drysdale took charge in was the memorable 1-0 victory over Exeter City last March when Jason Banton scored the only game in the derby game.