Northern NSW Football have announced its three major Referee Awards for 2020.
With Northern NSW Football’s annual Jennings Medal awards event not able to be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, annual awards were presented independently instead. But the recognition and achievement of the awards should not be diminished.
Andrew Higgins was named the Referee of the Year, while Alison Macready was chosen as the Female Referee of the Year.
Riley Hungerford was named Young Referee of the Year.
Northern NSW Football Senior Officer – Match Official Administration and Development Brad Carlin congratulated the trio on their fine seasons and praised the standard of match officials across northern NSW in 2020.
“I think overall throughout the season including the finals series the standard of officiating was quite high. Overall I though the standard was really good particularly given the disruption we had with three months without football due to the suspension of football,” Carlin said.
“We had a matter of weeks to get people physically ready to go again, trained up and match fit with no trial games, just straight back into it. Plus it was a long season as well, we blew the first whistle in January and then we finished a month before Christmas.
“I think overall the standard was really good and the referees themselves can take the credit for that and also our referee coaches and assessors. I thought they were instrumental in getting the guys up to that higher level.”
Referee of the Year – Andrew Higgins
Andrew Higgins refereed consistently well throughout the entire NPL NNSW first grade season. His decision making was sound and showed a good style with players. One of Higgins’ strengths is his ability to influence player behaviour and manage players and situations. He also has a good sense of humour and communicates well.
Higgins was consistently the best first grade referee from start to finish in 2020, with his performances acknowledged with his appointment to referee the NPL NNSW grand final between Edgeworth FC and Maitland FC at No.2 Sportsground last month.
“[Higgins] said to me the day I rang him to tell him he had the grand final ‘Brad that’s nice to hear because I’ve worked my backside off this year’ and I would agree with that,” Carlin said
“He worked really, really hard to perform consistently week in, week out at that very high level of football.”
Female Referee of the Year – Alison Macready
Alison Macready was rewarded for another outstanding season with her third Herald Women’s Premier League grand final in the last four years when she took charge of the decider between Newcastle Olympic and Warners Bay at Macquarie Field in October.
“Alison was far and away the best performing female referee at first grade level in that competition which is why she got the grand final again this year,” Carlin said.
“She’s had it a couple of times previously. But she is a very consistent, very strong performer at WPL level.”
Macready was the standout performer at WPL level for 2020 thanks to her impressive stamina and fitness. She also has the respect of players and is a strong communicator.
“She earns the respect of the players, she’s fair, she’s empathetic, she’s consistent and the players genuinely enjoy having her referee them,” Carlin said.
Youth Referee of the Year – Riley Hungerford
Riley Hungerford is one to watch out for among the Northern NSW Football referee ranks in the next few years.
Hungerford, from Singleton, stepped up to NPL Senior level this season and was rewarded for a stellar campaign with his appointment to referee the NPL under-18s grand final at Cooks Square Park late last month.
Hungerford kept his cool in hot conditions during an intense and at times challenging match to show why he is so highly regarded.
“Riley is a real talent and one to watch for the future. He has been refereeing for three or four years now. As soon as he came on board you could see he was a red-hot talent,” Carlin said.
“He is very professional for a young person, very mature. Focused, not arrogant but clearly has worked out in his mind what he wants to do which is to go all the way.
“He is supremely fit, goes running all the time and moves around the park really well. He has a good style and is very mature on the park. He doesn’t get phased, just digs in. If the game gets a bit hot he keeps his composure.
“He’s an outstanding talent.”
Northern NSW Football has again committed to encouraging more young and experienced players as well as volunteers to become Match Officials in 2021 by offering the $140 ‘on-the-pitch’ starter pack.
Want to become a referee in 2021? Click here!