A FORMER war veteran made it a football refereeing hat-trick.

Whistle-blower Darren McMillan, who served in the Gulf War and the Falklands, scooped the top man in black for the Gloucestershire County League for a third consecutive season.

Dursley-based McMillan,53, is now in his 13th season and eighth as a Level 4 referee.

"Getting the award for the first time was amazing, second time was fantastic, third time was unbelievable," said McMillan.

"I am being voted each game I referee from both managers throughout the season on the Glos County League, so to get an average of 87 out of 100 was humbling. I don't do anything different each match, although I always remind myself it's just a game to enjoy by everyone. Any advice would be to ensure your admin is spot on and always prepare beforehand with your kit, travel etc. As the military has taught me, never be late."

McMillan believes his military background has helped him deal with situations on the pitch, he said: "Nothing is more stressful than war, and supporting a tornado squadron in the Gulf War of 91 was both exhilarating and scary, but all for a worthy cause.

"Being in the RAF makes you realise what you can do for yourself, and some make it and some don't. Similar to be a ref, in the RAF, you are getting shouted at, verbally abused, usually during training, making you feel worthless, but it's how you react. Remain calm and do not shout back.

"When you ref you must remember, frustration is very common amongst players and when they say something it's usually the spur of the moment, however, there are boundaries. You don't manage the person, you manage the situation, assess, think and then make the correct decision.

You only have a split second to do that and in the services you only have a split second to react, or it could come at a heavy price. Remain calm at all times, otherwise you don't think straight."

McMillan is also now guiding his son Kyle on the refereeing circuit, he added: "My son is starting his first season on the circuit now, so developing and coaching Kyle is my goal as well."