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'I suddenly thought about how surreal the whole situation is' - Town fan stepped out of the stands to serve as fourth official at Southend

Kane Vincent-Young goes off injured in the second half on Saturday at Southend - Town fan Jonathan Smith stepped out of the stands to serve as fourth official. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

Kane Vincent-Young goes off injured in the second half on Saturday at Southend - Town fan Jonathan Smith stepped out of the stands to serve as fourth official. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

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The Ipswich Town fan who stepped in from the stands to serve as the fourth official in Saturday's win over Southend has been offered tickets for the rest of the season by the Shrimpers.

Jonathan Smith answered the call from the stadium's public address system after one of the original officials was forced to head home, delaying the start of the second half.

The Town fan, 51, who lives in Westcliff, told the Southend Echo: "I heard the announcement and spoke to the nearest steward before heading off into the referee's room.

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"I have been refereeing for many years so I knew how to use the board for the substitutes and everything like that but I did check about four times before holding it up each time.

"I had to make sure I got it right but it all went OK and it wasn't really until about 10 minutes after the final whistle that I suddenly thought about how surreal the whole situation was."

Smith, who's refereed matches in the Women's FA Cup, can usually be found as the man in the middle in the Eastern Region Women's League, but enjoyed his step up to League One action.

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"I'm actually an Ipswich fan but I'll often head down and watch Southend," he said.

"I was at the game at the weekend with some friends and my son, who actually rang my wife to tell her I had been taken away by the stewards.

"It was only when she started to worry about what might have happened that he actually told her I was going along to be the fourth official.

"But it was even stranger when a couple of fans recognised me in the pub after the game."

He added: "Southend have been kind enough to offer me tickets for the rest of the season now."

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