IT wasn’t all about the players at the 2017 NSW State Cup.
Port Macquarie referee Brad Walsh topped the officiating workload for the local association when he adjudicated in an impressive 13 matches over the three days.
Walsh had the whistle in six matches on Friday, another five on Saturday and then wrapped up with another two on finals day.
Players competed in eight or nine matches over the weekend.
Incredibly, Walsh could have adjudicated another match on Friday, but was told he needed to have a rest – and it would have been well-earned.
“They have previously put GPS trackers on players to find out how much distance an average player will cover in one game,” Walsh said.
“It turned out that players cover two and a half kilometres, but a referee will cover up to twice that in the role as sideline or main official.”
It turned out that players cover two and a half kilometres, but a referee will cover up to twice that in the role as sideline or main official.Brad Walsh
It meant Walsh covered 65 kilometres in three days – a distance further than travelling from Port Macquarie to Kempsey.
“The legs weren’t too bad after it, but we had a club game on Tuesday afternoon where I was a bit sore,” Walsh said.
He started his refereeing career back in 1993 and then family commitments took him away from the game before he returned five years ago.
“It is mainly about fitness, representing your region and then [later on] you can get referee upgrades where you can represent your state,” Walsh said.
“I’ve got young kids coming through and I want to be able to move around with them when they ref games.
“It looked fun and was better than rugby league because I kept getting injured. At least in touch football you only injure your ankles and knees.”
It’s good to see the young kids developing and I’m a coach so I can train those level ones that are coming through the system.Brad Walsh
One of the highlights of Walsh’s 13-match stint at this year’s event was a match between Manly and Newcastle.
It was an encounter that did become fiery and as a referee it was Walsh’s job to keep the players in line.
“They were quite vocal and fiery because everyone hates Manly,” he said.
“I refereed a lot of the Sydney clubs and saw a few NRL players with Scott Prince and the Mavericks.
“Most of the games I refereed were men’s 20s and 30s and keeping up with those guys that are sometimes half my age is a challenge.”
The 44-year-old said it was pleasing to see a new breed of referees coming through the ranks in Port Macquarie.
“At the State Cup we only had two that were over 18,” he said,
The association fielded six new level two referees in teenagers Tahlia Hunter (18), Sam Nunan, Samet Portakaldali, Lachlan Knox and Jack Hopkins (all 16) and Mitchell Hardie (15).
“It’s good to see the young kids developing and I’m a coach so I can train those level ones that are coming through the system,” Walsh said.
“I get satisfaction out of that.”