Football isn’t a matter of life and death. Scottish Cup Final referee Bobby Madden knows that better than anyone. Madden was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last April. By August, he was undergoing critical surgery.
For Madden, football paled into insignificance as he put his health and family first during a frightening ordeal. But as he prepares to take charge of his first Scottish Cup Final on Saturday, he admits the prospect of such days helped keep him going through a dark period. Madden said: “I was first told there was a problem in March 2016. I went to Monklands Hospital to have a lump on my neck checked and I thought I would only be there for ten minutes. It was the day of a game and I ended up there for four hours. The doctor told me he was 80 per cent sure I had thyroid cancer. It was a shock, and I didn’t tell my family for four weeks until it was confirmed because I didn’t want to alarm anybody. When I was driving up to the match that night, any time I got stopped in traffic I was looking for the signs of thyroid cancer. When I was signalling for a throw-in during the game, I was thinking, ‘Is that dry skin?’ The game that night didn’t go as well as I would have liked. I made an error. It just shows you. I thought, ‘I’ll deal with this’ but obviously it had an impact. When it was confirmed in April it was thyroid cancer the prognosis was quite positive. After the surgery to remove the thyroid I was to have radioactive iodine. So, there was no chemo or radiotherapy. It all went very well. I delayed it until after going up to the Euros. The biggest thing was getting back to a level of health to support the family and then hopefully back to refereeing. I was really focused to get back better than I was before. The doctor was unsure whether I would get back to refereeing, because I would need to take drugs to replace the thyroid. But it became clear that I would return. People are out longer with a calf strain. That is how I looked at it. I was just so focused on coming back. My first game back was Brechin v Livingston and then ten days later I was refereeing Portugal v Latvia in a World Cup qualifier. That was good, Ronaldo etc. It went well and then gradually I was put back in. I built my fitness up and everything else just fell in line.” Madden had only just given up his full-time job as a distribution manager for a publishing company a few months before he was hit with the diagnosis. That led to an initial worry, but the SFA were fully supportive of his desire to come back after his operation. He said: “John Fleming was one of the first to know, after my family. I wanted him to know what was going on. The SFA were very supportive, they told me to take as long as I needed before coming back. Pierluigi Collina sent me a very nice email, too, saying, ‘Don’t hurry back, UEFA will wait for you’. Hugh Dallas was phoning every week pretty much and that was great. It showed that people cared for me and wanted me to return. I still have one final full body scan to make sure all the cancer has been removed and hasn’t spread anywhere else. It was scheduled for the start of June but I go to the Under-21 finals in Poland for two weeks as a main referee and take a team of five Scottish referees there. I have delayed it until after that. I just need to come off the medication for a few weeks. I am very confident the news will be good but I don’t want any wee issues to distract me from that.”
Source: The Scottish Sun
Source: The Scottish Sun