County Durham referee blows final whistle on 70 year career, from officiating juniors to Maradona

Credit: Family photo

An 88-year-old referee is hanging up his whistle after a 70 year career where he has rubbed shoulders with footballing elite like Bill Shankly and Diego Maradona.

Terry Farley has now decided to call time on his job which has spanned thousands of matches across the country and throughout Europe.

Speaking about the decision to step aside, the legendary ref said: "I'm sad to be retiring especially when it's from something I've been involved in for seven decades.

"It's a difficult thing to do but I have to be realistic. I'm stopping because I can't go on forever and ever.

"It's not easy but I think it's the right decision. At the age of 88 I've decided to retire gracefully and it's right to call it a day."

Great grandfather Terry, who has an MBE for services to football referees, took up the hobby as an 18-year-old officiating junior teams and rose through the ranks until he was working across Europe, refereeing matches involving stars such as Kevin Keegan and Bobby Moncur.

Reflecting on highlights from his career, Terry revealed how in August 1971 he was due to be a linesman at St James' Park for Newcastle v Liverpool, but the referee pulled a neck muscle before the game and he had to step up.

"I didn't have time to be nervous", he laughed.

Newcastle won 3-2 after a hat-trick from superstar Malcom Macdonald, who was making his debut.

Terry recalled Bill Shankly, who was managing the losing team, rated his judgement as "reasonable".

He said: "Getting that from Bill Shankly was wonderful."

The veteran referee was invited to Buckingham Palace in 2011 to receive his MBE for services to the profession from the Queen.

Terry told ITV News Tyne Tees he didn't face much abuse as a referee over the years, though after one match where he didn't spot a penalty, he got given a pair of glasses by a member of the crowd.

Despite hanging up the boots, he's still involved at his local Bishop Auckland Referee's Society branch which he remains president of.