Lismore referee shines in unruly Gold Coast soccer comp
LISMORE soccer referee Sam Osborne jumped from the frying pan and into the fire when he started officiating in the Gold Coast competition last year.
Osborne, 20, has been named as the Football Gold Coast Referee of the Year after his second season officiating premier league games in Queensland.
It is the ultimate honour considering the award is voted by the clubs and the top six referees were in contention.
It is also a competition not for the faint hearted.
"To have four or five send-offs in a game is not uncommon (on the Gold Coast)," Osborne said.
"Having a couple of cans thrown at your head from the crowd is not uncommon either.
"The first premier league game I did up there was between two rivals and there was a broken leg in the first five minutes.
"I think we had three red cards and it turned into a bloodbath.
"Things can snowball pretty quickly in that competition and you have to be on your game from the opening whistle.
"Some of the referees in Queensland steer clear of the Gold Coast because they know the reputation it has.
"Refereeing can be a lonely adventure at times and it's a big surprise to get an award because you don't expect the personal accolades."
Osborne started officiating as a 13-year-old on the Far North Coast and played with Richmond Rovers until he was 16.
He has spent the past two seasons on the Gold Coast and hopes to one day referee in the A-League or try his luck in England.
He still lives in Lismore and sometimes travels three times a week as part of his responsibilities.
"It can be a long season, we start our preseason work in January and the training can be gruelling," Osborne said. "There are players around here that are in the competition and I thought if they can do it I could too.
"When I first did the lower grades I hated it but once I started training and getting the better games I enjoyed it a lot more."