Parramatta Referees celebrates 75 years of history in style

Sydney Creative Photography - Parramatta Refree League 120
Seeing a number of Covid interrupted seasons pass by, the Parramatta Referees’ Association was able to properly celebrate 75 years of the Association on Saturday 29th October, 2022 at the marvellous CommBank Stadium. Commencing in 1947, due to the split of the Western Suburbs Junior League, the Association is steeped in tradition and has a rich 75-year history. This point was driven home on Saturday night with a vast array of presentations and items that were uniquely “Parramatta”. Having brought up it’s 75th season in 2021, there was a great deal of anticipation to celebrate 75 years at the newly established end of season Gala Night. This proved to be a fantastic opportunity to blend the celebration of 75 years and acknowledge the achievements of members throughout season 2022.
It was only fitting that the event be held at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta. The Association’s close ties to the Parramatta District Club, Leagues Club and Junior League over the course of its history meant that the “Home of the Eels” would be an ideal location for such a celebration. The Association thanks the staff at CommBank Stadium for facilitating such and event whereby we could showcase our great history.
The night commenced with the exchange of warm welcomes between many members, past and present as they entered the room for pre-dinner drinks. Members were able to utilise the photobooth and media wall for photos. Upon entry, many left wonderful written notes in the 75-year guest book which will be stored away as a timepiece of the event. A flashback of Association activities to the tune of the rugby league anthem “Simply the Best” sung by the wonderful Natalie Carboni, set the tone for the evening and opened official proceedings. MC’s Paul Holland and Daniel Luttringer welcomed the 160 plus guests as an acknowledgement of country took place. Out of the 160 guests present, there was in excess of 45 active members, 26 Life Members and 13 members that had officiated first grade. This was a testament to the ability of the Association to bring people together.
President Robert Morey gave an address welcoming all, making note of how pleasing it was to see such a diverse range of faces in the room. Former President and Life Member Bill Heylbut gave the first toast of the evening. Guests charged their glasses to 75 years of achievements, friendships and history. This was followed by a commemorative cake cutting by Patron’s Max Dunn & Ian McCall. The first awards of the evening were the Darkie McCall Award, the 2021 & 2022 Rookie of the Year Awards and the Trainer of the Year Award. Ethan Murray was acknowledged for his extensive contribution to the Association during the course of the 2021 calendar year by being presented the Darkie McCall Award. The work that he puts into the Association on a daily basis is unfathomable and therefore most appropriate that he be the next Darkie McCall recipient. Life Members John Dennis and Gavin Reynolds presented Rookie of the Year awards to Maisy Macarthur and Brooke Munro respectively. Adam Allouche was a joint winner of the 2022 Rookie of the Year Award but was absent. Trainer Bernard Biala announced for his dedication to training, that Harrison Bayssari would be the Ernie Bull Trainer of the Year for 2022. To round out the first segment, awards were presented to the coaching group on stage, to acknowledge their efforts throughout 2022.
Following the entrée, a video presentation was shown, featuring many members that were unable to be present at the celebration. Heartfelt and humorous messages were shared by William Jones, Jason Ndeira, Mark Harvey, Bill Harrigan, Gavin Laing, Zbigniew Przeklasa-Adamski, Brad Levy, Sabrina De Silva, Mike Reid, John Yard, Kevin Vuong, Kasey Badger, Ian Muir, Jak Muir and Alan Shortall. The next group of awards presented included the Bob Jones Most Improved Awards, the Junior & Senior Touch Judge of the Year Awards and the Kevin Jeffes Coach of the Year Award. Life Members Pat Mackey and Gavin Reynolds presented the most improved awards to Thomas Hunt, Lukas Durrant and Harrison Buxton. Life Members Pat Reynolds and Ken McNaught presented the touch judging awards to Pat O’Shea and Marco Levy. Zac Fares was also a recipient of the senior touch judging award but was absent on the night. The Kevin Jeffes Coach of the Year Award was presented by Life Member Ian Parnaby to current Director of Officiating Ethan Murray. Another wonderful collection of award recipients that graced the stage. In receipt of their awards, many highlighted the positive influence of their peers and their coaches. The next presentation on the program recognised the recent grading of Ethan Klein. Life Member Paul Holland spoke of the potential of Ethan and his ability to forge his own career after following in his father Ash’s footsteps. A performance item of Green Day’s “Time of your Life” was accompanied by a series of classic images from the Association’s 75-year history as guests broke for the main meal.
To kick off proceedings after the main, a Q & A panel was run to get the insights across the broad membership base on the importance of the Association. Life Members Graham Annesley and Greg Kelly along with Tom Cambourn, Olivia Lawne and Marco Levy made up the panel. The group spoke very passionately about their humble beginnings and the importance the Association had played in their careers thus far. It was most noteworthy the perspectives each had on coaching, training, the social environment, and the opportunities provided by the Association. Following the panel, Director of Finance & Sponsorship Ethan Murray proposed a toast to our current sponsors. This session was concluded with presentations made as tokens of appreciation to several members who had offered their services in a variety of forms throughout season 2022. A very healthy contingent of Life Members then gathered on the terrace of CommBank Stadium for the annual Life Member group photo. Behind was the big screen, lit with an LED banner of the Association logo noting 75 years.

The final portion of the night saw Life Member Merv Presland present the Referees’ Referee Award to Harrison Bayssari. An excellent acknowledgement from his peers. Following this, Life Member Jake Peters-McDonald announced that Maisy Macarthur would be the recipient of the John Roe Junior of the Year Award. Joining Harrison and Ethan as multiple award winners on the night, it was an extremely successful night for Maisy, who has really made an impressive start to her refereeing career. The Patrons were invited back on stage to present Harrison Bayssari with the Patron’s Trophy for refereeing the A Grade 1st Division Grand Final. Harrison remained on stage in his role of Executive Officer to propose the final toast of the night which again highlighted the success of season 2022 and steer attentions towards prospective future success. Daniel Luttringer was presented with a well thought out surprise by his friends and the executive, when he was presented with the match ball from his Sydney Shield Grand Final. 
The evening saw the presentation of the 75 Year History book. The quite extensive document details the achievements and contributions of the Association’s membership since 1947. It features numerous archival elements that have now been preserved for years to come. In what was a most fitting occurrence, a large group photo took place at the end of the night encompassing all members, past and present who were in attendance. The cross section of experience and enthusiasm within the group truly represented the Association’s rich past and exciting future.