Tributes have poured in from across the north-east football community for the “larger than life” former referee and administrator, Brian Christie.
The 59-year-old, from Kincorth, died in the early hours of yesterday after a short illness.
Brian, dad to Kirsty, leaves his wife Anita. He was also described as a doting “Brizzey” to Bekka, Ashton and Jay, Anita’s grandchildren.
In a statement, his family said: “Brian lived for his family, loved his football and worked hard throughout his life. He was in every sense a larger-than-life character and he’ll be sadly missed by all those who knew him.
“Brian was fun to be around. A big man with a big personality. He loved his family and they loved him. He was loyal to his many friends. He was taken too soon after a short illness and we’ll miss him so much.”
Brought up in Northfield, Brian was an accomplished amateur goalkeeper and talented local cricketer before moving into football refereeing in the 1980s.
He was a highly regarded official in both the Highland League and Scottish Football League. His final game as a senior official was as linesman the day Celtic beat St Johnstone in 1998 to win the Scottish Premier Division.
Brian moved into football administration, becoming current secretary of both the Aberdeen and District FA (ADFA) and the Aberdeen Amateur Football Association (AAFA). He also had a spell as referee liaison officer for Aberdeen Football Club.
Brian always took an interest in helping the development of young referees. He was in charge of referee classes in Aberdeen for a number of years. His dedication to the game saw him highly commended in the Evening Express Aberdeen’s Champion awards in the sport category in 2011.
In a varied career, he was manager of the Malt Mill pub in Aberdeen before latterly working for Ram Tubulars as sales development manager.
Current ADFA president, Buckie Thistle president Garry Farquhar, said: “The whole ADFA will sorely miss Brian because he has been a phenomenal servant for more than 12 years.
“He put a huge amount of work into local football in the north-east and he will be sadly missed.
“For me, it has been easy to be president of the ADFA when you have a secretary with the ability of Brian. He thought of everything.
“He is a great loss and our thoughts are with his family.”
Finlay Noble, Fraserburgh chairman and ADFA senior vice-president, said: “He was excellent at his job as a referee and as ADFA secretary. But, more importantly, he was a very good friend and I will really miss him.
“He was an excellent administrator and he brightened up your company when he was around.”
ADFA junior vice-president and Inverurie Locos’ representative at the association, Barry Gibb, said: “His involvement with north-east football goes back further than 12 years as secretary because of his time as a referee.
“He will be a huge loss to football in our area and the thoughts of everybody at ADFA are with his family and close friends.”
Former referee Martin Johnston stepped up to the senior ranks in 1990 at a similar time to Brian.
Martin, who served as ADFA secretary between 2001 and 2004 and is now Peterhead FC general manager, said: “In all the time I knew him he was nothing but a gentleman.
“He was very fair and didn’t let personal opinions deflect from making decisions. He was loved by everyone and will be sorely missed. He was a great football man, but also a great friend and colleague.”
The SFA’s administration manager for referee operations, Drew Herbertson, worked closely with Brian appointing officials for ADFA competitions.
Drew said: “It’s very sad news. Brian put a lot into his refereeing career and carried his love of football into the administration of the game – not just as the ADFA secretary but also as the AAFA secretary – I regarded him as a good friend.
“He will be much missed, he was a great character and very well-liked and well-respected within football.”
Sandy Roy, association manager for SFA referees in Aberdeen and district, who described his friend as a “superb bloke”, said: “Brian’s contribution to refereeing is absolutely massive.
“I first met him in 1985 and he had just started refereeing then.
“He progressed through the ranks and he was well-respected as a referee.
“I think it was also a lot about what he did off the field for refereeing.
“Brian was a class instructor in Aberdeen for new recruits.
“He was a member of our executive committee for a number of years and he was also our president.
“He coached the young referees and new recruits coming into refereeing and helped them a lot.”
Formartine United secretary and former referee Bryan Braidwood said: “Everyone at Formartine has been devastated to hear of Brian’s passing. It has been so sudden but Brian was himself right to the end. It’s an absolute tragedy.
“I socialised with Brian almost every weekend and he was always there for me, as an administrator and referee.”
Cove Rangers chairman Keith Moorhouse said: “We’re devastated by the news of Brian’s passing.
“He will be a massive loss to football in the north-east and with the ADFA.
“He was a larger-than-life character who was well-respected and liked by all the clubs, which is not always easy to achieve.
“Our thoughts go out to Brian’s close family, and the football family will pay respects when we can.”
Banks o’ Dee president Brian Winton said: “It is extremely difficult to imagine cup finals without Brian leading from the front.
“He was a true ambassador who will be sadly missed.”
Keith chairman and ADFA representative Andy Troup said: “It’s very sad news, because Brian has been a football stalwart, playing, refereeing and as secretary of the ADFA and AAFA.”
Former Evening Express sports editor Charlie Allan used to run amateur football teams when Brian was a player and then a referee.
Charlie also worked with Brian in his ADFA role due to the EE’s sponsorship of the Aberdeenshire Cup.
Charlie said: “He was a larger-than-life character and he was a generous, warm and helpful person. I dealt with him professionally in his role with the ADFA and he was brilliant to deal with.
“He gave his life to football at various levels.”
An Aberdeen FC spokesman said: “Brian was a friend to many at Aberdeen FC. We are all devastated.”
Brian’s funeral will take place at the West Chapel at Aberdeen Crematorium on Friday at 9.30am.