One of shinty’s best-ever referees Deek Cameron has decided to step down after 15 years as a whistler.
Following a playing career for Fort William, and latterly Kilmallie, which included two Camanachd Cup wins, two MacTavish and one Macaulay as well as a league title and two Scotland caps, Deek Cameron didn’t really see himself becoming involved as a match official.
Cameron, a plumber by trade, said: “I got a call from Astie Cameron (Camanachd Association operations manager) one Friday evening.
“Now Astie only ever called when he had a problem with his plumbing, so it was a surprise when he asked if I fancied refereeing the following day’s North Division Three game between Kincraig and Inverness.
“I took a bit of persuading, but Astie assured me I’d be fine.
“The game finished 1-1 but I remember there was a bit of a fight at one point, and I didn’t have any yellow or red cards with me, so I just made the players shake hands afterwards.
“At the end of the game, Kincraig’s Neil Ross, who might have been involved in the fight actually, told me I was the best referee his side had seen all season.
“That gave me a boost and it always stayed with me that you didn’t need to wave cards around all the time, and it’s good to let the game flow as much as possible.”
Memorable Camanachd Cup final
Deek Cameron was quickly promoted to a Grade 1 official and his first cup final was the Balliemore clash between Kinlochshiel and Lochaber in 2010, just two years after his debut.
The outcome was decided during a penalty shoot-out when Shiel keeper Graham Kennedy saved the ball with his face.
There was more drama when he officiated his first Camanachd Cup final the year after.
It was between great rivals Newtonmore and Kingussie with More looking to win the trophy for the first time in 25 years and Danny Macrae fired them into the lead after just 12 seconds.
Deek Cameron had a glance at his watch as he held the record for the fastest Camanachd Cup goal, scored after just nine seconds in the 1-0 win over Kingussie in Glasgow in 1992.
He said: “Somebody shouted from the sidelines, asking if Danny’s goal had beaten my record but I was able to report it hadn’t. I remember the BBC showing both goals simultaneously on a split screen.”
Newtonmore won the match 4-3 after extra time whilst Deek also refereed a Macaulay final which went to extra-time.
Deek Cameron refereed four Camanachd Cup finals, a record he shares with John Henderson.
He also refereed two Macaulay finals, one MacTavish final and one Glasgow Celtic Society final as well as Scottish internationals.
He added: “I always thought refereeing cup finals was easy as you had two top goal judges, an experienced referee as fourth official and four people running the line so you had a lot of help. The semi-finals could be much harder.
“I also did five Lovat Cups, Beauly always used to ask me, as well as a couple of MacDonald Cups between Glenurquhart and Strathglass, and I really enjoyed those games.”
His refereeing talent was recognised when he received the coveted Johnny “Ach” MacRae referee of the year award in 2015.
As well as his obvious refereeing skills, Deek Cameron always looked the part.
He said: “I always thought that was important and I used to buy my own kit; usually the Champions League referees’ gear.
“It was a standing joke when I played for Fort William that I never got dirty and my gear was spotless at the end of a game so I’ve obviously carried that on.
“Fifteen years refereeing is enough and I’m now looking forward to watching Fort William games with my friend Ali Clark.
“His son Lewis plays for the team, and it will be nice to watch the games and have a beer afterwards.” No one would grudge Deek that.