Referee Mike Roncone banishes Arbroath boss Dick Campbell to the stand over his on-field penalty kick protest (picture by Graham Black).
Referee Mike Roncone banishes Arbroath boss Dick Campbell to the stand over his on-field penalty kick protest (picture by Graham Black).

Tomorrow’s (Saturday) hopeful return to the league campaign cannot come quickly enough for Dick Campbell and his Arbroath troops.

The Lichties visit Airdrieonians at the Excelsior Stadium, keen to re-focus on League One duties after their torrid Scottish Cup tie experience at Ayr United.

The match unintentionally became one of the weekend’s main talking points for the wrong reasons after boss Campbell was ordered to the stand, having entered the field of play to confront referee Mike Roncone over a penalty which was not given.

Ayr won 4-1 but the Gayfield gaffer was upset by the nature of the victory and insisted the scoreline did not reflect the balance of play.

Campbell knows the SFA will almost certainly come hunting for him after his on-field transgression – but he felt the number of people who joined the chorus of criticism was rather out of proportion.

He admitted he had been wrong, however – and also thanked the visiting Lichties fans for supporting the team .

“I shouldn’t really have gone on to the pitch,” he conceded. “I am not trying to hide or pull the wool over anybody’s eyes – it’s called natural enthusiasm. Everybody and their dog will have an opinion on the penalty decision but there is only one that counts and that is the referee’s.”

He added: “I was wrong – I didn’t realise how far on the pitch I was because I was too obsessed with the game.

“But, to be fair, I thought it was a horrendous decision. I have already been documented on what I’ve thought about that, but I should never have gone on to the pitch.”

Campbell said other aspects of the game had annoyed him – he thought Arbroath had given away a soft first goal, while the second had involved a foul on their ‘keeper and the other two were offside.

“For 21 minutes of the second half, there were constant waves of attack from us. Youwould never have believed Ayr Untied were full time and playing at home,” he said.

The cup was a chance to advance the football club and keep it progressing, with money to be made, which made it evern more disappointing, said Campbell. People would look at the game and think 4-1 must have meant a convincing win for Ayr, which he maintained it was not. “Still, there was one good thing which came of out Saturday,” he said. “Raith Rovers got beaten!”

Campbell added: “It’s amazing how many people come out and have an opinion on me, which annoys me. Everybody’s wanting to jump on the bandwagon.

“To be in the dugout for over 1200 games – I wouldn’t say my record is exemplary but it’s good as anybody else’s in terms of respecting referees.

“But I was wrong, so I will take whatever punishment is coming.”

Campbell thanked all the fans who had travelled to Ayr.

“I apologise for letting them down but they were magnificent in supporting the team. It didn’t go unnoticed at all,” he said.

Regarding Airdrieonians, Campbell said he had no cause for fear – they had a big pitch but Arbroath’s away record was as good as anyone’s.

“Airdrie are fighting for their lives.” said Campbell. “They have a completely new set-up down there and their new regime was watching us on Saturday, but I can only influence what happens in my team.”

Pledging changes, he said Ryan Wallace would definitely be back, while he was considering David Gold’s recent form and also how well Omar Kader did when he came on at Ayr.

Campbell has also entered a pre-contract agreement with Berwick’s Michael McKenna.