The Blue Ribbon Referees

Frank Delaney

Frank joined Balmain in the late 1920’s, becoming Secretary and Treasurer (one position) for the years 1930-1933.

A most competent Referee himself, his greatest contribution to the game of Rugby League came in the form of administrative duties by way of being Secretary of the NSW Referees Association and through this avenue made a very significant impact on the game in this State. Of particular importance was his major role in the success of the Maher Cup, a famous Competition competed for in the Riverina area. He was responsible for the supply of Referees for the Competition, as well as officiating himself on many occasions.

He was a regular contributor to the publication “League News”, circulating throughout NSW, offering contributors an insight into the world of Refereeing. 

He was the first (of many) Referees from Balmain to move into the wider world of Rugby League in general – in that sense he paved the way for those to follow.

Frank was justly rewarded for his wonderful contribution to Rugby League by being made a Life Member of Balmain Referees Association, NSW Referees Association and the NSW Rugby Football League.

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John Thomas (Dinny) Murray

Dinny was regarded as legendary by, not only Balmain Referees but by the Rugby League world in general. His status arose from many factors – his intricate knowledge of the Laws of the Game, his great ability to sum up a game (and the Referee’s contribution to it – his straight forward assessment of a Referee’s performance was something to behold) and his charismatic personality. His aim was to assist Referees in improving their performances and thus progress to higher achievement.  On a personal level as a Referee he was a Graded Referee and officiated as an International Touch Judge.

He served as President of Balmain for many, many years and was one of, if not the most, significant factor in the Association becoming one of the foremost District Associations.

A big man by stature, matched by his stature in the game – so expressed on many occasions by Bill Buckley, the President of the NSW Rugby Football League – a legend in Rugby League.

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Tom McMahon

Said by many Referees to be “the finest one of all” Tom had an extraordinary career at the top level.

He had control of Test fixtures from 1936 to 1951, entailing Tests played by Australia against England, New Zealand and France (in his day, Referees only controlled international matches in their home country). He refereed a match Australia against Yorkshire during the 1948 Kangaroos Tour.

Considering he also refereed interstate fixtures from 1933 to 1950 – as well as being the premier Referee in the Sydney Competition - one can contemplate the heights he reached.

The word “control” is synonymous with Tom McMahon – his control was legendary and as such he was a model for, and an inspiration to, younger Referees. In this regard, our own Cliff Brown freely attributed his motivation to succeed at refereeing to observing Tom, whom he described as “a talent to be admired.”

Tom was known as “Long Tom” – he was a very tall man – to distinguish him from the first Tom McMahon, the leading Referee from the 1920’s.

For good measure, upon his retirement Tom turned his hand to coaching. He took on Western Suburbs First Grade and coached them to the Premiership in 1952, one of the very few coaches to achieve such success at the first attempt. Balmain is proud to have had Tom in our ranks.

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Bill Cuke

Bill took up refereeing after being a hooker in the Balmain President’s Cup Team – at the time President’s  Cup was a prestigious Competition for under-21’s, a stepping stone to Grade. Instead, Bill made a mark in Grade as a Referee, attaining First Grade status.

Indeed, he was one of a quartet of Balmain Referees who achieved what has in all likelihood not been matched by any other Referees Association – namely, supplying all the First Grade Referees for a Round of Rugby League, the other “immortals” being Tom McMahon, Austin Shiner and Jack Mc Gauley – a wonderful tribute to the Association!

He returned to the District after retiring from Grade and there set the standard for those younger Referees seeking to control  “A” Grade  fixtures as a stepping stone towards Grade. Bill being back in the District ranks demanded improvement in those around him – a fitting testament to his contribution to Balmain.

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Austin Shiner O.A.M.

Austin is fondly remembered as the person who coined the expression (or at least used the Expression most often) that Balmain is “The Blue Ribbon Association”). To say that Austin was a father figure in Balmain would be an understatement. He insisted on “inclusiveness” among Referees – meaning that, when a person became a Member of an Association (whether Balmain or Head Body ...the NSW Referees Association) that person was to be welcomed into any gatherings and discussions among Referees, regardless of rank. 

His achievements were remarkable – First Grade Referee and Touch Judge (officiating in the Centre at age 21) and occupying the positions of Treasurer, Secretary, Social Secretary, President and Patron of Balmain; Member of the NSW Rugby Football League Appointments Board, Vice President and later President of the NSW Referees Association, a post he held for many years, during which time there were unusual challenges. A serious dispute between Referees and the governing body which came close to resulting in a boycott of Grade games by the Referees, and the introduction of overseas Referees to officiate in Grade fixtures. Austin’s negotiating skills, while sticking to his principles, came to the fore in settling these disputes.

Austin’s outstanding contribution to Rugby League was recognised by being honoured with Life Membership of Balmain, NSW Referees Association and the NSW Rugby Football League. He was justly awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the 1985 Australia Day Honours List.

Despite these honours – richly deserved – Austin is best remembered   for his wisdom, friendship and loyalty to all and anything to do with his beloved “Blue Ribbon Association.”

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Robert Martin (Bert) Hall

If any Member in the history of the Association encapsulated what it means to be a Member of this Proud Association, and to “give it all you’ve got” it would have to be Bert Hall.  Let us first look at his overall involvement in Rugby League. Graded after a short time in the District ranks, Bert acquitted himself well but his business commitments took him away from Sydney and thus curtailed his career.

Nevertheless he maintained his connection with Head Body and was honoured with Life Membership of that Body.

His knowledge of refereeing was such that he was a Member of the NSW Rugby Football League Referees’ Appointment Board from 1970-1974 and thereafter a Member of League’s Advisory Board from 1975-1978.

On an administrative level, he served as Secretary/Treasurer of Balmain and at one time was responsible for all appointments for the District. Naturally, he was honoured with Life Membership of Balmain.

But Bert’s everlasting contribution to the development of District Referees lay in his extraordinary devotion to duty at his beloved Birchgrove Oval. On Sundays, for an inordinate length of time, Bert, grey-haired and walking stick in hand, would be just inside the fence (he felt strongly that Appointment/Advisory Board Members should be on the same level as the Referees he was judging) assessing the performance of the Referees but, more importantly, passing on his knowledge with a view to improving them as Referees.

Bert was not a “fair weather person” – he maintained his “vigil” at Birchgrove, from the first game to the finish of the last game, in all weathers and even when his health was failing. His devotion to duty was such that on one occasion those Referees officiating in the last game, seeing the condition Bert was in, took him immediately to the nearby Balmain Hospital, where he was admitted with a severe respiratory  infection – naturally, Bert was back at his “post” the following Sunday!

On top of all this Bert was quite unassuming and one of nature’s gentlemen – justifiably a favourite son of Balmain.

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Jack (Joe) McGauley

Jack was one of the many Balmain Referees whose involvement in Rugby League extended well beyond the District.

Jack progressed from the District to Grade and controlled over 100 First Grade fixtures, as well as refereeing City v Country and several Maher Cup matches at various Country Centres. After retiring from Grade, Jack “answered the call’ from Balmain to come out of retirement to officiate in District fixtures – a measure of his loyalty to the Association.  He held various positions of an administrative nature: Delegate to the League’s General Committee for some 17 years; Manager of the NSW Team against Queensland; Country & Junior Committees; Appeals Board; Head Body Executive; NSW League’s Judiciary Committee 1975/1983.

One of Jack’s special interests was in coaching aspiring Referees to obtain their Referees Ticket. In all, he coached some 300 to reach this goal. In addition he had an abiding interest in lending a helping hand to anybody prepared to listen to his advice on how to improve as a Referee.

Although Jack remained a “Balmain man” at heart and was made a Life Member of the Association for his continued interest in the Association (the sight of him proudly wearing his Blue Jacket to Association Meetings lingers in the memory) he was similarly honoured with Life Membership of the NSW Referees’ Association, the NSW Rugby Football League and the NSW Leagues Club.

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Cliff Brown

When one hears mention of Cliff Brown what immediately springs to mind is a person of immense stature in the game of Rugby League.

Starting off in the District ranks – he distinguished himself by being appointed to control A,B & C Grades in the one year – Cliff went on to referee the President’s Cup  Final, was thereafter graded and went on to control First Grade for many years until  his retirement in 1962. In addition, he controlled many Interstate fixtures at the Sydney Cricket Ground and Lang Park and progressed to refereeing matches involving NSW against New Zealand and Great Britain. 

Upon retirement from active refereeing he immediately took to administrative duties, filling such roles as a Delegate of Head Body to the General Committee of the NSW, including a ten year stint on the League’s Management/Executive Committee; Member of the Examination Board, including a period as Chairman; Manager of the NSW Team in the Interstate Series against Queensland; Co-Manager of the successful 1977 Australian World Cup Team; the first Director of Referees, a break from the past with sole control of all Grade Appointments, a position he carried out with distinction until his retirement from that role. 

This is not to say that Cliff was not actively involved with Balmain. At various times he served as President and Treasurer and his interest and enthusiasm for the Association never waned. It was always a privilege to be present on the many occasions when he was called on to deliver what inevitably turned out to be an inspiring message about the Association, refereeing or what he always referred to as “the game of Rugby League.” As a speaker Cliff had no peer.

In 2013, in recognition of Cliff’s contribution to refereeing in general and to Balmain in particular, the Referees Room at Leichhardt Oval has been named “The Cliff Brown Referees Room.”

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Francis William (Frank) Walsh

Frank was one of those people who could be described as “larger than life.” He progressed from Balmain to the Grade ranks where he attained high honours, having the Distinction of being a First Grade Referee, First Grade Touch Judge, First Grade Grand Final Touch Judge and International Touch Judge. In all he was an active Grade Member for some 26 years!

In Balmain he served as Secretary for 2 years and President for 17 years. He was the Secretary of the NSW Referees for many years and at other times held the positions of Social Secretary and Assistant Secretary.

In recognition of his stature in the wider world of Rugby League he was appointed Manager of the 1982 NSW State of Origin Team, at a time when there was considerable angst between even the officials associated with the respective teams. Frank also controlled fixtures over many years in the NSW Police Comp. Frank’s undoubted, and continuing, interest in “all things Balmain” and his heavy involvement with Head Body, his other abiding interest was in helping other Associations to develop.

In this regard, his involvement was such that he was made a Life Member of Manly Association, an Honorary Life Member of Penrith Association and a Patron of Penrith, Public Service and University Cup Associations, as well as being honoured with Life Membership of Balmain, NSW Referees and NSW Rugby League. His interest in Referees extended to Canberra, Newcastle and the Illawarra. His work with the Annual State Schools Carnival and the hospitality shown to Referees from Country areas was well known.

But above all this, Frank was keenly interested in all Referees (more especially those from Balmain) and their wives and families.

In addition, Frank who carried with him an air of authority, both on and off the field – authority he used wisely for the betterment of Referees and for the Game in general.

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Max Tomsett

Max’s record as an Association Member is unsurpassed in the very long history of Balmain.

On the administrative side he carried out many roles – Social Secretary, Secretary for 3 years, President for 6 years, all of which were performed with the sole idea of advancing Balmain and its Members. His outstanding contribution in this regard was formally recognised on no less than 8 occasions by receiving the Tom Downey Award.

On the active side of things Max’s record was outstanding. Max progressed to Grade after being the leading ranked District Referee for 5 years and officiating in the Centre in the Jersey Cup Final and President’s Cup Semi-Final.  Max progressed to refereeing Reserve Grade but his major contribution came in his role as a Touch Judge. In this respect, he “ran the line” in some 308 First Grade games as well as numerous appointments to International and Interstate matches. One of his most cherished memories is being appointed as a Touch Judge to the inaugural State of Origin game at Lang Park in 1980, an experience he described “as like no other.” When Max retired at the end of the 1983 Season he had the extraordinary record of having officiated as a Touch Judge in 9 First Grade Grand Finals between 1975 and 1983.

Max quite rightly received Life Membership honours from both Balmain and NSW Referees Association.

In 2013, in recognition of the tremendous contribution made to Touch Judging by this “Prince of Touch Judges” Balmain instituted the “Max Tomsett Award” to recognise those two Members adjudged to be the top Touch Judges for a particular season. Max was on hand to make the presentation to the initial recipients.

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Neil McMahon

Neil is one of those people who optimises what it is to be a Member of the “Blue Ribbon Association.”  Neil gave his all in refereeing District football for 9 years – often in years when the number of Referees to go around was minimal and Referees were called upon to officiate in up to five international matches on the day. This Neil did without complaint while at the same time immersing himself in the administrative side of things. 

In this regard, he served on numerous Balmain Committees, including as Social Secretary for 3 years, Assistant Secretary for 4 years and ultimately as President for 6 years, carrying out all of these Positions with distinction.

In addition, Neil was the Balmain Delegate to the Balmain Junior League for some 3 years, involving very many nights away from family in the service of the Association. For his undoubted stellar service to Balmain he was the worthy recipient of the Tom Downey Award on no less that 6 occasions – a fitting testament to his efforts on behalf of the Association being recognised by his fellow Members.

In his “spare time” Neil was a leading light for many years, both as an active Referee and in an Administrative capacity, in the NSW Public Service Referees Association.

Naturally, Neil is an esteemed Life Member of Balmain, his contribution to the Association being both remembered and memorable.

At our75th Celebrations Neil became our only member to be awarded Life Membership a second time.

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Ray O'Donnell

Ray O’Donnell joined Balmain in 1946 and was Graded in 1947. He refereed 3rd Grade Centres and Lines until 1949 when he commenced a distinguished career as a First Grade Touch Judge until the end of 1953. After performing creditably in the Centre during the trials of 1954, he refereed all grades, mostly reserve and first grade up until 1960. In his final year Ray was on the First Grade Grand Final line. Ray’s Touch Judging achievements include five First Grade Grand Finals and one Test (Australia v France in 1951). Ray was an extremely well respected referee.

In 1977, after a break of seventeen years, Ray made an impromptu return when Brian Barry was hurt during the First Grade Grand Final.

Ray was awarded Life Member of Balmain Rugby League Referees’ Association, the NSW Rugby League Referees’ Association and the NSW Rugby Football League. He was elected as a Vice President of the NSW Rugby league in 1984, a position he held for several years. Ray was also appointed Manager NSW Rugby League State of Origin Team in 1987. Ray was very active in Balmain and was a great contributor. He was awarded the Tom Downey Memorial Trophy for outstanding service to the Association the first year it was awarded in 1950 and again in 1951. His efforts as a referee and legacy will be remembered not only by the Balmain District Rugby League Referees’ Association, but also by the entire Rugby League fraternity.

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Arthur Neville

Arthur joined Balmain Referees Association in 1948 and commenced his outstanding Career, a career possibly envied by many, but appreciated by many more.  Arthur’s first year started with some problems.  He had made excellent progress, when unfortunately broke his leg.  Time out from Grade was taken to heal then Arthur returned to the juniors. Arthur quickly hit his straps and was well regarded by everyone in the District and rewarded for his outstanding performances, with Finals appointments.  It is impossible to keep a good man down, and he was recalled to Grade and from this point continued to accumulate a most imposing portfolio of successes.

Arthur officiated in more than 100 First Grade fixtures at a time when there were only six first Grade appointments each week. He was regularly appointed to officiate in the Final Series of Games over the years.  Some of Arthur’s career highlights was refereeing the 1968 3rd grade Grand Final and the 1969 City v Country fixture.  He retired from the active ranks in 1970.  Arthur was awarded Life Membership of Balmain Referees in 1958 and NSW Referees in 1986.  Always interested in the Rules of the Game, Arthur helped so many aspiring young men become successful referees by personal coaching. Arthur served on the Advisory Board for many years.

In the mid-1950s to about 1958, Balmain Referees Association enjoyed tremendous success supplying to Grade ranks more than its share of talented referees.  Arthur was one of these special men who helped to make the game of Rugby League so popular.  Arthur always presented himself in an impeccable manner; he was an imposing official, a fine referee, well prepared and most capable.

Arthur held numerous positions in the Balmain Referees Association including Patron and Treasurer (2). Arthur’s legacy would be that Balmain Referees Association would continue to enjoy continued success through individual referees by dedicated effort, fervent desire to improve, courage in their own ability and a love of Rugby League.

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Graeme West

Graeme joined the Balmain Referees Association in 1979 and was graded in 1982. Graeme was appointed to his debut First Grade game in 1983, where he remained until injury forced his premature retirement in 1997. During his 15 years as a first grade referee, Graeme controlled in excess of 260 First Grade Games, including many Finals Series games and two Commonwealth Bank Cup Grand Finals.

Graeme was a member of the NSWRL Coaching Panel and is responsible for many current Balmain and Graded referees gaining their referees tickets. Graeme was awarded Life Membership of the Balmain Referees Association in 1990 and the NSWRL Referees Association in 1999.

Graeme holds the distinction of being only the 8th person in 86 years to hold office of President of the Balmain Referees Association. On the Past Executives Honour Role, Graeme’s name sits along those of his predecessors, legends of the game, such as Jack “Dinny” Murray, Austin Shiner, Cliff Brown, Frank Walsh Snr, Frank Walsh Jnr, Max Tomsett and Neil McMahon. These men are not only legends of the Association, but of the entire refereeing fraternity, with many of them refereeing and / or holding office at the highest level of the game. Graeme has certainly earned his place amongst these great men. Graeme has led the Association through times of great instability, in both District and the game of Rugby League itself.  During his tenure as President, the membership grew, representation in the Junior Reps and Graded ranks had never been stronger and the Association “attitude” is so strong, that we are now the envy of most other Referees Associations.

The Association is stronger, due to Graeme’s guidance, vision, leadership, strength and a belief that Balmain really is “The Blue Ribbon Association”

Graeme’s legacy will last for many years to come.  It was an honour and privilege to have Graeme as President for 11 years.

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Brian Maher

A great “Association Man” is the only way to truly describe Brian Maher. He received his referee’s ticket just after his 21st Birthday (minimum age) and joined Balmain Referees in 1965.  He was active until 1978.  Brian has got lots of members off to a great start in their Refereeing careers.  Graeme West was one of his many successes. 

When the Association was short of experienced Referees in 1996, Brian was coaxed by Phillip McMahon to come out of retirement to run lines, be on the Advisory Board in addition to, coaching and mentoring Referees as they “learned the trade” until 2001.  It was during this period, that Brian had the pleasure of joining his daughters on the field in an “all Maher affair” with Vanessa (Centre) and Rebecca and Brian on the line.

Brian has held numerous positions in the Balmain Referees’ Association including:- Secretary (2), Treasurer (2), Social Secretary / Member Services (2), Committee (4), Vice President (4), Honorary Auditor (4),  Junior Appointments Board Secretary (2), Seminar Committee (1), Social Committee (8), Appointments Board (6), Deputy Delegate to the Balmain Junior League (3) and Tom Downey Committee (10). 

Brian was awarded the Tom Downey Memorial Award (Service to the Association) in 1983.  Brian was honoured with Life Membership of Balmain in 1979.

In his first Centre he refereed Geoff Starling, later to become the youngest player to play for Australia.  Brian controlled numerous Grand Finals, including the Major Grand Final and was in great demand as an experience Touch Judge. On the representative side, Brian refereed Flegg and President Cup centres and ran lines in Ball and Flegg Cup games.

In 2015, Brian was awarded an Order of Australia (O.A.M) Medal in the Australia Day Honours List for service to the Community

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Phillip McMahon

Commenced refereeing in Penrith in 1976 and was graded in 1981. He became a Balmain Referee in late 1982 after moving into the Balmain District. On arrival Phillip took on the task of mentoring a number of young referees with great success. After only attending six meeting he was approached by Austin Shiner and Frank Walsh prior to the Annual Meeting and was advised that they had something for him to do.  Austin Shiner nominated Phillip as Treasurer and Frank Walsh seconded the motion and he was elected unopposed. That was the start of a lengthy career.

Positions held include Treasurer (5), Director of Referees/Referee Manager (9), Committee (6), Vice President (2), Honorary Auditor (5), Tom Downey Committee (12), Judiciary Representative (7), Gear Steward (3), and Trophy Committee (4) in addition to Patron, Social Committee and Appointments Board.

Of all the positions Phillip has held, the most important from an Association’s prospective has been his role as Coordinator of both the 75th and 100th celebration.  This role has included the writing of our history book on both occasions.

Phillip was awarded Life Membership in 1991, the John Kelly Memorial Award (Recognising the Quiet Achiever) in 2012 and the Tom Downey Memorial Award (Service to the Association) in 2013.

Perhaps Phillip’s greatest legacy is his dedication and devotion to referee training and development.  He is the Association’s longest serving Director of Referees/Referee Manager having performed this role on nine occasions since the position was created.  A testament to Phillip’s success is the numerous members who advanced into Junior Representatives Squad and into Grade.  Phillip has always had the knack of getting the best out of his referees.

Phillip is a true “Balmain man”.  He has a wealth of knowledge about Refereeing and football in general and shares his knowledge readily. 

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Luke Bugden

Luke is a true professional and carries out any of his duties in an uncomplicated and no fuss manner.  He is aware of what is happening around him and can be relied upon in any circumstances.  When Luke was Association Secretary in 1994 he congratulated the other person who received Life Member that year, he didn’t mention that he also received Life Membership in 1994.  This is typical of the man.

Luke has held numerous positions with the Balmain Referees Association including:-  Secretary/Executive officer (7), Social Secretary/Member Services (7), Committee (1), Coaching Committee (1), Deputy Delegate to the NSWRLRA (8), Delegate to the NSWRLRA (1), Tom Downey Committee (11), Social Committee (2), Sponsorship Committee (3), Gear Steward (3) and Historian (2).

The time necessary and amount of work required hasn’t fazed Luke.  He has contributed to the Association in the demanding positions of Secretary and Social Secretary

Awards received include the Frank Walsh Memorial Award (Most Improved International Referee) in 1994 and the Tom Downey Memorial Award (Service to the Association) three times in 1993, 1995 and in 1997.

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David Wilson

David C Wilson joined the Association as a Junior Member in 1980 and became a Senior Member in 1985 and remained active within the Association until he retired in 2011.  In 1985 David accepted his first position as Deputy Delegate to the Balmain Junior League. In 1987, David was elected to the positions on the Committee, Tom Downey Committee, Junior Appointments Board, Deputy Delegate to the Balmain Junior League, and Assistant Coaching Officer.  One of David’s proudest moments, was when he coached Matt Cecchin for his mini-mod ticket in 1985-86. 

Throughout his career David has held the following positions; President/Chairman (7),  Patron (3), Assistant Secretary (3), Committee (9), Social Committee (10),  Tom Downey (7), Sponsorship Committee (9), Coaching Committee (2), Judiciary Representative (6),  Honorary Auditor (4), Delegate to the Junior League (5), Deputy Delegate to the Junior League (8), Junior Appointments Board  (2) and Historian (9)

There was no-one prouder than David when he was awarded Life Membership in 1995. He has twice been awarded the Frank Walsh Memorial Award (Most Improved International Referee) and also the Austin Shiner Memorial Award (Refereed the Major Grand Final in Balmain District).  David has been a great contributor to our Association as an Active referee and undertaking numerous administration roles that are so vital to the success of the Balmain referees Association. In 2009 David was presented an engraved fountain pen in recognition of his 30 years of service. 

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Scott Todd

Joining the Association in 1985 as a Junior (Schoolboy) Referee, Scott didn’t take long to show his dedication and drive to succeed. Blessed with abundant speed he outpaced most players when in the centre or as a Touch Judge.

In 1988, he debuted as a Senior Referee immediately getting Grand Finals both as a Referee and Touch Judge. Scott was selected in 1993 for inclusion in the Inter-District Referees Squad (Junior Reps). Following a successful Junior Reps career, which included two S.G. Ball Cups Grand Final Touch Lines, Scott was graded in 1997 and immediately started taking official duties within the Association on several Committees and all Senior Offices.

Scott is the only member in 100 years who has held all the positions in the Association’s Senior Executive which are President/Chairman (4), Secretary/Executive Officer (6) and Treasurer/Finance Director (3) performing all roles with distinction. Other roles held have been Assistant Secretary (2), Assistant Treasurer (2), Social Secretary/Member Services (3), Historian (2), Delegate to NSWRLRA (1), Deputy Delegate to the Balmain Junior League (3) and Delegate to the Balmain Junior league (2). 

In 2002 Scott was elected President (the first President or Chairman to graduate from Junior Referee to lead the Association) for a year before his employer required him to go to Rockhampton for two years. This was a very bitter/sweet time for Scott as he was sad to leave the Association, but grateful for the work opportunity. Scott has also been a member of the Committee (Board), Social Committee, Coaching Committee, Sponsorship Committee, Tom Downey Committee in addition to being Honorary Auditor and Judiciary Representative on occasions. Scott has had an impeccable attendance record of all meetings held.

Awards received include the Bert Hall Memorial Award (Most Improved Junior Referee) in 1987, the Austin Shiner Memorial Award (Referee of the Major Grand Final) in 1994, the John Kelly Memorial Award (Recognising the Quiet Achiever) in 2008 and the Tom Downey Memorial Award (Service to the Association) in 2000 and again in 2011. Scott was awarded the Sean Hampstead medal (Referees Referee of the Year) in 2010.

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Paul Parnaby

Paul joined the Association in 1981 and has been actively involved ever since. His active career was hampered with a hip injury that occurred as a child. This injury made life difficult, but it didn’t stop Paul. His lack of speed was overcome with his impeccable ability to read the game.  He was king of the short cut.  Despite the difficulties Paul was always in position to make the correct decision. His love of the game and drive to referee overcame the obstacles.  Numerous Grand Final appointments followed. He was an excellent Touch Judge who could be relied upon to go out of his way to assist the Referee.  

Paul was awarded the inaugural Bert Hall Memorial Trophy (Most Improved Junior Referee) in 1982. This was very fitting as Paul and Bert had become very close over the years and Paul often acted as Bert’s taxi to save him from the long walk home. Sadly his active career ended in 1992 due to injury.

The end of active refereeing heralded the start of Paul’s administrative career as a long term and valuable member. Positions held include; Assistant Treasurer (1), Treasurer (3), Patron (1), Vice President (1), Honorary Auditor (6), Coaching Committee (2), Judiciary Representative  (2) and Deputy Delegate to the Balmain Junior League (2).

In recognition of his service to the Association Paul was awarded Life Membership in 2002 and he received the Tom Downey Memorial Award (Service to the Association) in 2012.

Perhaps Paul’s greatest legacy is the time he has spent on Appointments Board and as an Evaluator where he has been able to pass on the ability to read the game and helped develop our referees.

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David Pickering

David commenced refereeing in the Central Coast Competitions in 1977 where he became a dependable Senior Referee and Touch Judge.  He joined the Balmain Referees Association in 1989 after moving to Sydney.  David was appointed to numerous Grand Finals in Balmain either a Centre Referee, Touch Judge or as In Goal Official. He was very popular with all the referees who were keen to have him as part of their game.  David retired due to illness at the end of 1994 and underwent Heart Bypass Surgery in 1995, before returning to active duty in 1996 before eventually retiring in 2013.

David has wholeheartedly supported the members of this Association as an Active Referee and in any role the Association required.   His administrative roles include; Vice President (1), Patron (2), Judiciary Representative (1).  Tom Downey Committee(5), Honorary Auditor (5), Deputy Delegate to the Balmain Junior League (3) and perhaps his most important role as Appointments Board/Evaluator (23) where he has helped develop numerous referees.

David was awarded the Tom Downey Memorial Award in 1992, for Outstanding Service to the Association. He received the John Kelly Memorial Award in 2004, being recognised as the Associations “Quiet Achiever”. In 2002 David was presented with Life Membership.

In 2010 David was awarded the Dennis Braybrook Memorial Award for service in helping Junior Referees by the N.S.W.R.L.R.A. David has given endless time to the young Referees, being a mentor and generally helping them settle into the refereeing life, sacrificing many Sundays in order to assist our Referees. 

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Darryl West

Darryl West was awarded Life Membership in 1994 in recognition of his excellent service to the Association since becoming a member in 1979. Never one to stand aside and let others do the work, Darryl has always been there to assist whenever possible.  A lot may not be aware how good of a referee Darryl was during his active days. He handed many difficult “A” Grade games when a physical contest was standard and foul play rampant.

The Frank Walsh Memorial winner in 1985 as the Most Improved International referee and in 1986 was the inaugural winner of the Austin Shiner Memorial Award for controlling the major Grand Final.

Darryl has held numerous positions within the Balmain Referees’ Association including:- Vice President (3),Director of Referees/Referee Manager (6),  Patron (7), ), Committee (4), Social Committee (8), Judiciary Representative (3),  Sponsorship Committee (1), Tom Downey Committee (9), Appointments Board (1), Delegate to the Balmain Junior League (2), Deputy Delegate to the Balmain Junior League (2) and Deputy Delegate to the NSW Rugby League Referees’ Association

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Sam Gebrael

Sam joined the Balmain Referees Association in 1987 and Sam has often said that he and his family joined a much bigger family when he joined the Balmain Referees Association. It became very obvious that Sam was destined for great things.

Throughout his career Sam has been very involved with the coaching and training of referees. Sam has held the following positions; Referees Manager (7), Gear Steward (1), Coaching Committee (8), Social Committee (2), Sponsorship Committee (4), Judiciary Representative (12), Tom Downey Committee (12), Deputy Delegate to the Balmain Junior League (1), Delegate to the Balmain Junior League (2) as well as the Vice President and on the Committee (Board).

Sam has officiated in many Grand Finals, as a Referee and Touch Judge, and was awarded the Frank Walsh Memorial Award (Most Improved International Referee) in 1993 and he received the Austin Shiner Memorial Award (Referee of the Major Grand Final) in 1995.

Sam was awarded Life Membership of the Balmain referees Association in 2002 and was the Tom Downey Memorial Award recipient (Service to the Association) in 2002 and in 2009.

In 2013 Sam was awarded Life membership of the Balmain Junior Rugby League Association for service to Rugby League in the Balmain District.

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Stephen Wilson

Stephen Wilson is a most genuine person most people will ever meet & is someone who processes an infectious personality and a genuine desire to have a positive impact on other people’s lives.  To say he absolutely loves Rugby League and refereeing is an understatement. Over the years Steve has made a valuable contribution to the Association in whatever capacity is needed. Steve has bundles of enthusiasm and no undertaking is too big for him to take on.  His contribution since becoming a Life Member in 2006 speaks highly for his commitment to the Referees Association.

Awards received include the Frank Walsh Memorial Award (Most Improved International Referee) in 2001, the Austin Shiner Memorial Award (Refereeing Major Grand Final) in 2002 and the Tom Downey Memorial Award (Service to the Association) three times in 2003, 2006 and 2007.

Stephen has held numerous positions with the Balmain Referees Association including:-  Social Secretary/Member Services (3), Assistant Secretary (1), Director of Referees/Referee Manager (1),Patron (2),  Committee (1), Coaching Committee (3),  Tom Downey Committee (2), Sponsorship Committee (3), Social Committee (2),  Delegate to the Balmain Junior League (1), Deputy Delegate to the Balmain Junior League (3), Delegate to the NSWRLRA (1). Deputy Delegate to the NSWRLRA (3).

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