Group 11 mourns the loss of an ‘absolute gentleman’ of the game

MARK OF RESPECT: The Wellington Cowboys and Parkes Spacemen observed a minute silence before kick-off of Sunday's game at Pioneer Oval. Photo: JENNY KINGHAM
MARK OF RESPECT: The Wellington Cowboys and Parkes Spacemen observed a minute silence before kick-off of Sunday's game at Pioneer Oval. Photo: JENNY KINGHAM

Group 11 will remember John Acheson as an “absolute gentlemen” of the game after serving his much-loved referees association for over a quarter of a century.

The competition’s players and officials paid respects to one of the region’s longest serving referees on Sunday after Acheson – a life member of the Group 11 Referees Association - passed away on Thursday morning with his family by his bedside.

First grade sides across Group 11 observed a minutes silence in respect of John, his wife Robyn and family in round three.

Players and officials also wore black armbands.

Originally from Forbes, where he played with the Magpies, before moving to Dubbo where he was introduced to refereeing, Acheson turned into one of the cornerstones of the association both on and off the field.

A referee, mentor and treasurer, Acheson continued to give back to the game well after he was able to blow the whistle on the field.

Long-time Group 11 referee and NRL western game development officer for referees, Willy Barnes said Acheson’s contribution to the game was immense.

He will be missed.

RESPECTED: Group 11 Referees Association life member John Acheson.

RESPECTED: Group 11 Referees Association life member John Acheson.

“John loved rugby league and played many years with Forbes, this is why he wanted to put something back into the game,” Barnes said in a statement that will appear in Group 11 programs this weekend.

“John became our treasurer in the early 2000s and was made a life member in 2010.

“The treasurer’s job was something John loved doing and the books were always correct, this job kept John involved with our association long after he could not referee as it kept him active and also an opportunity to go to games.”

Acheson also served on the Group 11 appointments board.

“We know refereeing is not for everybody but this was his passion and he will be sadly missed by not only us but the rugby league community in general," Barnes continued.

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