Thank you David Pickering - a true Balmain Referee

It was announced and confirmed at the 2016 Annual Association Presentation Night that after more than 30 years active membership of the Balmain Referees Association, David Pickering was finally going to “retire” from all active game day roles within the Association.

For those of us who have known David a long time, we have heard this all before. We had heard it after his 50th birthday, his 60th birthday, his heart by-pass operations and countless other times. But this time, David truly (and sadly) means it.

There is not a single active member in the Balmain Referees Association over the past 30 years who has not benefitted from David’s experience, wisdom, passion, dedication or enthusiasm for our craft, the game of Rugby League or the Balmain Referees Association. From first year Referees to NRL Grand Final Referees, everyone who has ever had the privilege of having David watch and provide feedback on one of their games, knows that they are a better Referee for receiving David’s feedback.

Now let’s be honest for a moment. David has probably forgotten more about refereeing Rugby League at all levels of the game than most of us will ever know. As an active Referee, David had the most uncanny ability to manage players of all ages, from Under 7’s to A-Grade. David was universally admired and applauded by all sides, players and supporters and admired by his peers throughout his long active career, both in Balmain and prior to that on the Central Coast. But it was as a Coach, Evaluator and Match Day Assessor where David greatest gifts shone through.

Together with his old sparring partner Phillip McMahon, David has mentored hundreds of Referees over his 30 plus year career with the Balmain Referees Association. Some have achieved greatness within Balmain, some have achieved greatness in Junior Reps, Grade and the NRL, with some achieving the highest honour the game can bestow on a Referee, the NRL Grand Final and Test Match appointment. Surely there can be no greater mark of the man’s achievements in knowing you have helped someone reach the pinnacle of their sport.

Yet through it all, David remained humble, modest and forever self-effacing. David would often downplay his own abilities and skills whilst promoting and advocating others. David always put the Association and its members first and expected others to maintain the standards he refereed by for so many seasons. Such was the respect in which David is held that all members who David spoke to, listened & took on-board David’s advice willingly.

Throughout David’s long active career with Balmain, he had one true, constant and ever faithful companion who perfectly complimented David and allowed him to do what he loved so much, his adoring wife Helen. It is fair to say that our Association benefitted from Helen’s love and support for David because she allowed David to spend so much time with us. On behalf of the Balmain Referees Association, we cannot thank Helen enough for her love and support of David and our Association.

It is a mark of the man and the respect David holds within the Association that David was awarded the 1992 Tom Downey Memorial Award for Outstanding Service to the Association and the 2004 John Kelly Memorial Award as the Association’s Quiet Achiever. In 2001, David was awarded the highest honour our Association can bestow on a member, Life Membership. Furthermore, in our Centenary Season of 2015, David was one of the inaugural inductees to the Blue Ribbon Referees, the Balmain Referees Association’s Hall of Fame.

David, on behalf of the entire Association, the long list of members that you have coached, mentored and guided throughout your career we sincerely and humbly thank you for your service to our Association. If ever a member epitomizes what it means to be a Balmain Referee, it is David Pickering.


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