Youngest ref takes charge for decider
By STEVE SPINKS
LISMORE'S Luke Mackney is a bit of an individual. At 23, he will be the youngest referee to take charge of a major winter sport grand final this Saturday when Richmond Rovers take on Italo Stars in the Premier Division of Far North Coast soccer.
It caps a great season for the surveyor's assistant. He was also named the FNC referee of the year.
"It (the grand final) is what you strive for the whole year," Mackney told The Northern Star. "I found out last Tuesday that I would be refereeing.
"I thought my name would be in the hat but it's pretty exciting."
Mackney's age belies his experience. The former Thistles junior is in his eighth year of refereeing.
"I played up until I was 16 and then I had to choose between playing in the seniors or refereeing," he said. "I chose refereeing. It's always a challenge, every week."
Mackney likes to let the game flow and he expects the match this Saturday to be an exciting one. He also hopes to pursue his refereeing career.
"I'm hopeful that there will be other opportunities," Mackney said.
"There's talk of doing some games in Newcastle and I'd love to go a step further."
Last Saturday, a Northern Star report highlighted the abuse some soccer referees have been receiving from spectators and players locally, and Mackney believes the reaction has been positive.
"I was at the Premier League game at the weekend and there was talk about watching yourself and that your conduct has an impact on your club," he said.