A reporter swapped his notepad for the linesman’s flag when he was called into action during Hemel Hempstead Town’s defeat to Bath City on Saturday.
Matt Mesiano was reporting on the Tudors’ Conference South fixture for BBC Three Counties when one of the linesmen signalled to the referee that he was struggling with a calf injury and could not continue.
Hemel Town FC secretary Dean Chance was asked by the referee to put a call out over the Tannoy to see whether there were any qualified officials who could step in, but the message was not needed as Mr Mesiano overheard the request and immediately volunteered to run the line.
The game was halted for 10 minutes as the level seven qualified referee swapped his trousers for the linesman’s shorts, and he was soon ready for action.
But if he was hoping for a quiet afternoon on the touchline, the freelance radio reporter was soon given a wake-up call as he was involved in one of the defining moments of the game.
In the sixth of 11 minutes of first half stoppage time, a throw-in from Hemel was launched towards centre-forward Oliver Hawkins inside his own half, and the stand-in linesman looked to have flagged for an offence, but he was overruled by the referee.
The Hemel players were caught cold as they waited for the whistle to blow for the foul, but Bath continued to play on and were rewarded with the opening goal when Frankie Artus drilled the ball into the corner of the net from 18 yards.
Bath went on to win the game 3-0, with Hemel manager Dean Brennan left puzzled by the moment which led to his team falling behind.
“The incident for their goal, which was just before half-time, was crazy,” he said.
“The linesman puts his flag up, everyone stops, it’s a clear foul, and the referee just plays on.”
Gazette sports editor Adam Hull, who was sitting next to Mr Mesiano in the press box when he offered up his services, added: “It was all a bit surreal, really. I know we all like to get a good view on the matches we are covering, but this was taking it to the extreme.
“It was always going to be tough for the guy in front of a vociferous Bath dug-out, but you have to give him credit for stepping up to the challenge. I can only assume that he gave the match officials a good write-up in his post-match report.”
The incident for their goal, which was just before half-time, was crazy.Hemel Hempstead Town manager Dean Brennan