No-one knows rugby league better than Pat Walsh.
He has spent 40 years studying, teaching, and watching the game on field as a referee.
The Harden man was honoured with an honourary life membership at the weekend’s 75th annual Schoolboys Carnival.
Throughout his career, Mr Walsh has coached referees from Broken Hill to the Illawara.
Some have gone on to become first grade referees, and though he cannot count how many he has taught, each young referee has left an important mark on Mr Walsh’s memory.
“I’m very proud of my referees, and I’m very protective of them too,” Mr Walsh said.
“I will not allow anyone to attack them.”
Just before Christmas last year, the 71-year-old decided it was time to hang up the whistle, and don the attire of a spectator.
But he continues to offer his advice.
“You’ve got to be strong willed and thick skinned, because you can cop a lot of abuse, I’ve always taught them to block up their ears to it,” he said.
“Most importantly, respect the players and they will respect you.”