Taking Centre Stage at 91

Peter Robson

Picture: Tim Hunter, Manly Daily

Having celebrated his 91st birthday last month Peter Robson is the oldest active referee in Australia (to the best of our knowledge) and perhaps the world, and we are lucky enough to have him as part of our footballing community for the past 45 years.

Growing up Peter was not actually a footballer. He spent his time on the hockey field and it was not until later in his life that he decided to give the round ball game a go.

“Hockey was my game growing up, but the clubs were too far away from us, and we could walk to Melwood Oval where we could play soccer, so the kids decided to do that and that’s how I ended up playing and refereeing and coaching” Peter said.

A life member at Forest Killarney Football Club Peter joined the club alongside his children and this was where his love for the game began.

“I would referee in the morning and play in the afternoon” Peter explained however it wasn’t long until he had to bid farewell to playing.

“I got to the stage when I was 50 odd and at that time, they didn’t have a senior’s competition like today so I was playing football against 25-year old’s and found I couldn’t keep up.

“I wanted to stay involved in the game and the other way to do that was to referee.”

Still involved to this day Peter has refereed an array of games and his passion for the game and refereeing has never died.

“Being involved in the game means I get to ensure that the players get the best decisions, and you are enabling the players to do their best.

“You get to be involved in a game you like, and you can hopefully make the game enjoyable for those taking part,” said Mr Robson.

“The players spend their mornings and afternoons out socialising and enjoying football with their friends and if you can conduct yourself in such a way that when they come off at the end of the game and they have still enjoyed it, well then, you’ve done your job.”

Now at 91 years of age you will still find him out refereeing on a Saturday morning for the U12’s-U16’s ensuring that the players get the most out of the game before heading off to play bowls on a Saturday afternoon.

Reflecting upon the past 45 years as part of the MWFA and Manly Warringah Football Referees Association (MWFRA) communities one of Peter’s proudest moments was when he was called in to help referee seniors game a couple of years ago.

“I walked up to Melwood Oval to watch one afternoon and before the game started, I was talking to the referees and the AR’s and a player came over from Melwood 2 from an AL3 or AL4 game and said, ‘our referee hasn’t turned up’.

“I said okay, I haven’t got any gear but they found a whistle and I refereed the game and at the end of the game both teams said three cheers for the referee,

“You don’t hear that very often, but they were pleased that I was there, and that I did a decent job.

“If the players think you have done a good enough job to give you an applause that really makes the whole thing worthwhile.” Peter said.

Although we don’t know for sure if Peter is the oldest active referee, we have still given him the title and it is a title he is proud to hold.

“I’m really chuffed, I feel that if you are fit enough and you want to do something, particularly something that keeps you fit, do it.

“It’s about socialising with the players, coaches and managers, and the fact that I am able to do it is a surprise to me,” said Peter.

This Saturday afternoon Peter will also have the privilege of conducting the coin toss for men’s premier league grand final, hosted at Cromer Park, field 1 at 5pm.

Peter will take centre field along side referee of the year, Col Stocks. A special moment for both referees as Peter Robson was the centre ref on Stocks’ first ever game as a ref at the young age of 14.

Happy 91st birthday Peter and congratulations on your continued service to the MWFA, MWFRA and our footballing community. We are lucky to have you.


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