When the Rural Manitoba Football League season kicked off in Dauphin, earlier this month, there was a notable presence missing form the field.
Longtime referee Ken Smaluck has retired after more than 35 years of patrolling the gridiron.
Smaluck began refereeing in the mid-1980s out of necessity, due to a shortage of referees at the time.
“They needed refs and I just (stepped up). That’s basically it,” he said.
After getting his initial certification, Smaluck kept getting recertified over the years.
The game has pretty much been the same since he started.
“Every year, there seemed to be a lot of good athletes going out (to play). I’ve been nine-man throughout, so it’s been pretty consistent,” Smaluck said, adding there were not many rule changes over the years.
As a fan of the sport, Smaluck had to be careful not to get caught up watching the game.
“You’ve got basically the best seat in the house. You’ve got to be careful you’re not watching the game. You have to watch what’s going on. But still, I’ve enjoyed the football atmosphere,” he said.
While he couldn’t pin down any specific moments as his favourite, Smaluck enjoyed meeting and working with other referees.
It's just another great local story from the Dauphin Herald, and you can get the full rundown in this week's paper!