Vale - Life Member Tony Young

Vale – Mr Tony Young  


A sad moment for all Referee's and Rugby league community with the passing today of Refereeing and Rugby League Icon Mr Tony Young, who became a Group Nine Referee's association Life Member in 1969, so you may have an indication of what Tony achieved prior to 1969 ,  without mentioning the invaluable work he had done since that time.  Tony will be sadly missed our condolences to Mitzy, Family and Friends.

 All who came in contact with Tony be it once only at a carnival or those of us that had the luxury of a long lasting friendship and refereeing coaching sessions and input, the common thread from all, Tony was an absolute Gentleman and such a positive Refereeing Role model and he positively shaped many a Refereeing career.   

To attempt to capture every achievement of Tony would be difficult, because of his humble nature, Tony got on with things with no fuss or fanfare, anything Refereeing or Rugby League. 

I will try to capture just some of those moments in appreciation of his invaluable input and influence to all. 

An Active Refereeing Member for 56 Years.

Tony was Life Member of the following Associations:

ARLRA, G9 RL, G9RLRA, Riverina Referees, Riverina Schoolboys Carnival, Boorowa JRL, Young and District JRL, Group 9 JRL, Woodbridge Cup RL, Young JRL, Group 12 RA, Woodbridge Cup RA.

G9 Referees Association Life Member 1969

President of our Group Nine Referees Association: 1974-77,

Secretary: 1978-81

Treasurer: 1971-73 and 1978-79

Director of Referees: 2005-2007 

First Grade Number – 162

He was the 162nd first grade referee appointed to a Group Nine competition game, and was in good company with Mick Jones at 161 and Nevyl Hand at 163

  • In order of First Grade Debut  NB: (Mick jones 161) (Nevyl Hand 163)

Group Nine centres: 172

First Grade: 13

Reserve Grade: 35

U/18’s – juniors:  75

U/16’s: 48

  • Add to that another 1000 plus matches if you were to calculate 2nd division, school carnival games and I am sure my numbers would still be out. 

Tony continued his active participation through to Season end, where in

November at the CRLRA AGM saw the following gentlemen presented with their awards by long serving Life Member and CRLRA patron, Tony Young:-
David Windle (Grp 21) - 25 Year Medal
Willy De Valentin (Grp 20) - 15 Year Medal
Mark Edwards (Grp 10) - 25 Year Medal
Kevin Forde (Woodbridge Cup) - 25 Year Medal
It was fitting that both Mark and Kevin were presented with their medals by Tony who was instrumental in their refereeing careers as a coach and mentor.

Tony was honoured by his VIP kick off at the opening of the Young Masters Tournament 2015 at Young.

Active Participation at our Group Nine Referees Association AGM in October and enjoying a great G9 Referees Presentation Night with wife Mitzy , fellow Referees and Friends.

Tony had a passion for History, and in particular the history of Maher Cup. Many a time I had the privilege to talk to Tony at the footy regarding the greats of Maher cup and the gentleman that officiated them. Tony would sometimes say “you’d remember so and so “… I’d stay silent and just listen intently to attempt to capture all that he was telling me, and be sure not to offend as I didn’t dare indicate I wasn’t born than, however as Tony told each story with so much Respect and Passion for the game and referees involved, I could picture it anyway just through the many ongoing conversations and research I’d done. 

Tony was the catalyst behind our association History through a continuing Booklet and G9 Referees website from a conversation at Alfred Oval Young back in 2005.

A lasting moment of many for me, was having Tony shake my hand for a good minute at last year’s presentation night, Thanking our social committee over and over for bringing together and providing a Q&A and Jumper presentation involving Tony Fletcher, Peter Hay, Bruce Jacobson, John Hetherington, Bernie Nix, he thought that was just fantastic, and in particular have them talk about the Good Old Days of Refereeing which Tony as mentioned was a huge advocate. 

A snapshot of Tony’s Refereeing Career, and a Refereeing Survey we had the pleasure doing a few seasons back, Tony Debut Officially kicked off upon his appointment to the U/18, Young v Tumut in the late 1959, the game was a runaway by Young, unofficially Tony refereed two trial games: Young versus Cowra at Cowra which was then in Group 9, he shared that moment with great mate Mick Jones, and Duncan Thompson this was also in 1959. Previous to that Tony played and refereed 2nd division. 

As indicated to try and highlight just a few history moments of Tony’s Refereeing Career, here goes. 

Season 1961 - Tony was also an Active Refereeing member for Group Nine.

1962 - Tony was appointed to a Referees Squad alongside names including but not limited to Nevyl Hand, Mick Jones, Kev Warden, John Spaull, Greg Burt,

1963 - Mick Jones refereed the 1st Grade Group 9 Grand final between Gundagai vs Tumut at Cootamundra. After a 5-5 score line at fulltime, extra time saw the Tigers win 18-5. 1st Grade Touch judges for that day were Jack Martin and Tony Young.

1964 - Tony Young travelled to Grenfell to referee the first grade match between Grenfell vs Young,

1965 - Tony was a guest at the NSWRL Referees Association Annual Meeting on the 16th February, during this meeting Tony was in the company of Col Pearce when he was congratulated by the League for his performances in All Tests, Premiership Grand final and State Cup final.

Tony was also appointed of that year to Willow Park Junee, as it was known for the Caltex Knockout Carnival. Played between Group 9, Group 20, Group 17 and Group 13, Tony was appointed alongside outstanding Referees of that time including Kevin Warden, Mick Jones, Greg Burt John Gerber, Tom Blacker, Nevyl Hand, Jack Jewell and Len Bonham, Season 1965 was a successful season for Tony where he was appointed touch judge along Bill O’Brien, and Mick Jones the Centre Referee during the Group Nine Grand final, which was played 3 Times, Harden vs. Gundagai.

The 3rd Grand final reply for 1965 was then won by Gundagai. With Referee Mick Jones still in charge, Tony was also Touch judge alongside this time Tony Morton.

1969 – Tony and Mick Jones were awarded Life Membership of our Group Nine Referees Association.

1973 Tony had a presence in administration for Group Nine, successful in his compromise with Group Nine over referee fees for that year. Tony was successful in locking in the following payments , First Grade increased to $20 per Centre from $13, and new payments respectively for Reserve Grade $9, 18s $7 and $5 for 16s.

Although there was a compromise required, Group increased referee payments providing Travel was changed from 10 Cents per mile to 6 Cents.

1975 Referees appointments board, headed by Mal Brentnall, Brian Hughes, Ray Ward, and Tony Young was President of our Referees association with Patron - Lou Moses (Harden) Patron Frank Devlin (Temora), Deputy President - Tom Spain, Vice Presidents - Keith Turner (Gundagai), Tony Briggs (Harden), Secretary-Treasurer - Jim Gunn (Temora)

1977 - Tony Young appointed to Referee at the State Schoolboys Carnival,

1978 – Tony appointed Secretary – Treasurer of Group Nine Referees Association also appointed Reserve grade Minor Semifinal with Referee:    Tony Briggs, and Pat Addicoat his fellow touch judge. Also appointed in the Sullivan Cup Minor Semi Final, with Jack Castle Referee and Tony Morton his fellow touch judge.

1979 – Tony officiated in the Group 9 2nd Division competition. With Tony controlling the Gooloogong vs Wombat Match.

1980 – Tony was a key member of the Junior Referees Appointments board alongside names such as Noel Barber, Peter Hay, Gary Ware, Tony Briggs, Brian Rosetta, Bruce Barrett, and Ronnie Miles.

1981 – Tony active in Group 9 second division competition alongside Tony Morton, Kevin Reid, Tony Young, Bob Miller, Col Patterson.

Moving ahead nearly two decades and the year 2000 Tony is still an active member and mentor , alongside the company of Tony Young, Charlie Donohue, Tony Briggs, John Hetherington, Terry Hilton,

Season 2001 and Tony was fulfilling the role of Referees coach along side Bill Levy, Dave McCann, Ray Claffey, Pat Walsh, and John Hetherington.

2005 -2007 – Tony is Director of Referees for the Group Nine Referees Association.

Tony presents his Encouragement award and marks the recipient with  his words “A young referee with plenty of potential” this continues with many of his  award winners going on to establish their spot in the Southern NSW CRLRA Development squad and officiating on Group Nine Grand Final Day.

To scratch the surface and pick just a couple of Referees, as mentioned the common theme from day 1 of their Refereeing Career is a mentor, a gentleman and a friend to see to it they set of on the right foot.

Referees including and in their words:

 Col Patterson, Young was my junior Association and Tony Young, the late Tony Briggs and Mike Holmes were the people who influenced me to start refereeing and continue to the senior ranks. 

Bruce Jacobson - I was introduced my refereeing when I received my badge/qualifications on the 26th May 1978, under the guidance of my first mentor Rugby League Icon Tony Young. Tony would often travel from Murringo to Junee to view and assist in my Development during the early stages of my refereeing career. I was fortunate to referee a 16’s grand final at Weissel oval 1987. A unique moment with touch judge Kathy Young officiating (Kathy is daughter of Tony Young)

Referee: Ken Daniels 

Tony Young was my mentor and a great inspiration to me.  He taught me to be a Rugby League Referee.  I was and still am passionate about the game

 Tony was playing and refereeing in his 20’s and at that point focused on sole refereeing duties.

We were fortunate for Tony to provide some answers during a Referee profiles we sent out a few seasons back.

Referee Profile -

Name  Tony Young            DOB   24/09/30

Occupation                       Semi-Retired/Farmer Grazer

Favorite Team                  Eastern Suburbs Roosters

Favorite Drink                  O.P Rum and anything

Favorite TV Show             Fox sports for the Rugby League or any history channel

Most Admired Person                  My Wife

Most Embarrassing Moment         Breaking my leg in 1966 after getting mixed up in a tackle refereeing between Bendick Murrell & Koorawatha 

No junior refereeing associations to progress through in those days, People that influenced him were Bill Kearney, Ray Ward, Mick Jones and John O’Rielly 

A high Light of Tony’s Refereeing Career , Grand Final Series , 2nd Division 1965 Finals and Grand finals. Boorowa v Galong, Group 9 and also appointed to touch judge 5 Grand finals. 

Low lights: In Tony’s words “Broke my leg refereeing “, and “In 1966, Missing out on a Maher Cup centre, when I was snowed out and the game was cancelled” 

Try and name 3 Top Senior referees, Tony had seen and or worked with: Col Pearce, John Livermore and Mick Jones. 

An even more difficult question , come up with 3 top junior referees that came to mind that had come up through the ranks, Warwick Bowden, Ben Hartley, Luke O’Brien. 

If Tony wasn’t a Referee and has hard as that may seem him doing anything else, he did play Rugby League, Cricket a little and some soccer.

 Two best forwards I have seen or had the pleasure to Referee in Group 9;

Ron Crowe, West Wyalong and Allan Hockley Young

Two best backs, Leo Travenea Young, Greg Hawick Wagga Wagga.

Two best Captain and/or Coaches, Bob Sullivan Temora, Choker Gills Cootamundra.

Toughest Players, Captain/coaches to Referee, Peter Deversy Gundagai. Keith Cullen Young. 

What would be the two biggest changes in Group 9 in your career; again a difficult questions, Tony answered more professional, more technical and much faster. 

Biggest challenge facing group 9 next 5 years; To attract the right dedicated people to the administration side of things, and good financial support and backing both local and from crl. 

A Funny moment, Tony was Touch judge along with Jimmy Gunn. Group 9 versus Group 20. 1967, Neville Hand was about to award a try, when Group 9 captain, Choker Gills tackled Nev and took him out over the dead ball line. The events that led up to this is another story only one of many. 

Name your Top 5 Touch Judges you refereed with, Tony Briggs Harden, Dick Owen, Daryl Fazio Cootamundra, Bob Cashman Young, and Kevin Considine Junee.

 Tony also critiqued his fellow referees during his time: 

Mick Jones - Always looked the part. His Refereeing was outstanding, alert and allowed the game to flow, respected by Players and fellow referees. Refereed 80 Maher games.

 Daryl Fazio - Fit, quick of the mark, had a good eye, on the spot when anything happened. 

Greg Burt. Good style, layback, hated criticism. 

John Livermore - A gentleman ref, liked working with him, liked his attitude towards players and fellow referees. 

Neville Hand - A great character, you never knew what NE might do, rough and ready most enjoyable to work with. 

Kevin Warden - Layback style, I liked working with him and watching him in action. 

Darcy O’Connor – His Refereeing was Full On, clashed with players. 

Les Kell - Mainly a good reserve grade referee 

Jack Castle - Rough and ready, could be inconsistent with his control. 

Bill Castle - Wonderful to watch, great attitude toward players and fellow referee’s at all times. 

Len Lamont - Lay back style, good attitude towards players, however, couldn’t relate to his style as a Referee. 

Jack Jewell - Always refereed well, liked watching him and working with him. 

John Gerber- much the same as Jack Jewell. 

Terry Hilton- saw him in his very early days he was still learning at that time. 

Eric Cameron-Good style, too lay back at times.

 Kevin Considine - early days, mainly reserve grade and touch judge did a bit of work with Kevin as a touch judge.

 Richard (Dick) Owen - Good touch judge, good to work with, not with us long. 

John Spaull- makings of a good referee. 

Asked to compare Refereeing styles from the past to the game he sees today, the game is so different today it is hard to compare today’s referees with the good ones of the past, Scott Muir has the style that comes closest. 

Tony officiated many junior games and for those that were documented is in our history pages as 6th all-time for 18’s with 76 appointments. , joining the company of his fellow Refereeing colleagues which included on the honour board , Gary Haisell, Brian Walker, Ben Whitby, Tony Fletcher, Gubby Allen, Ron Dean , Les Kell,B Gillies, Austin Jones, 

Adding to many of Tony’s achievements his officially documented U’16’s appointments he currently is recorded in history at 9th most capped referee for this grade with 48 matches. Also in the company of Gary Haisell, Will Jacobs, Jacob Dowling, Tony Kelly, Les Kell, Terence Jacobs , Craig Webster and Mal Brentnall. Like Tony Mal Brentnall Life Member would have put his hand up on many other occasions and not documented. 

During our Referees Annual Presentation Tony fittingly provided and voted an award for our Junior Referees coming up through the ranks. Called the Tony Young Encouragement Award, the referees who had the honour to be voted by Tony included and starting from Season 1999 until 2015 they included, Trent Webster, Rhys McAlister, Warrick Bowden, Jake White, Jay Hazelman, Aaron Cheney, Mark Daley, Craig Hartin, Craig Webster, Jacob Dowling, Will Jacobs, Tim McDougall, Zane People, Sean Byatt, Toby Popple, Shane Bartlett, Matt Fitzgerald. 

Message from CRLRA

 It is with much sadness that the CRLRA marks the passing tonight of one of its much loved Life Members in Tony Young who was also a Patron of our Association.
Tony’s rugby league resume is awesome and covers in excess of seventy years from the time he started his playing career in country NSW. His life memberships include NSW Group 9 Referees, NSW Group 9 Rugby League, NSW CRLRA, Riverina Referees, Riverina Schoolboys' Football Carnival, Boorowa Junior Rugby League Club, NSW Group 9 Junior Rugby League, Young & District Junior Rugby League, NSW Woodbridge Cup Rugby League, Young Junior Rugby League Club, NSW Group 12 Referees, NSW Woodbridge Cup Referees and the Australian Rugby League Referees’ Association. He has been a regular participant of the Annual CRLRA Seminar for most of his refereeing years and was the prime mover behind establishing the Annual Laws Quiz Challenge where affiliated Associations compete for the “Tony Young Shield”, a trophy that he himself donated.
Our Association will be poorer from the loss of our beloved friend and we pass on our sincerest condolences to Tony’s lovely wife Mitzy and his devoted family.
RIP Tony.




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