Northland referee Pat Fairchild hangs up whistle after 50 years

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Pat Fairchild first put on a stripped officiating jersey in the late 1960s. Calling hundreds of games between then and now the seasoned referee decided this season, after 50 years of working the football circuit, to hang up his whistle.

"It’s been great. I went into with knowing that it was going to be my last year and I work [with] my son-in-law [who’s] a referee on the crew and we get along really well," Fairchild explained. "I played high school football and I just look forward to getting on the field in the fall on Friday night and being part of the activity."

Over these five decades the Duluthian has seen more than a few changes to the game. He loves the upgrades to turf fields across the region, and particularly has noticed a change in players approach to the sport as athletes are getting stronger and faster each year.

During those years, Pat has made many great calls like game-winning Hail Mary touchdowns. He’s had to make a number of tough ones too, including once calling back his own son in-law Pat Berquist’s 80 yard touchdown drive at Duluth Denfeld under former head coach Marv Heikkinen.

Berquist scored on the next drive so it’s okay that one of Fairchild’s favorite fields is still Public Schools Stadium, the home of Hunters football.

Denfeld head coach Erik Lofald said he know’s Fairchild will be missed at their games. "When you think about Duluth football you think Pat, and he’s kind of been a main stay around the league, so you know it’s football season when you see him on the sideline."

Fairchild reffed his last regular season game October 20 as Hermantown defeated Rock Ridge 55-0 at Centricity Stadium.