To any soccer loving youngster in Canowindra and Cowra, Geoff Dernee would be a familiar face.
Saturday marked the end of an era, with the former Canowindra High School teacher hanging up the whistle and calling time on his stint as a referee for Cowra and District Soccer.
Geoff, who has been involved with the club for the last 36 years, said he originally got involved so he could referee school matches.
“I was working at Canowindra High and we would have the odd knockout game,” he said.
“So I thought someone really ought to find out the rules to this game and run us properly, so we don’t look like mugs from the sticks, that’s when I found the referees here and joined them to qualify.
“I’ve probably stayed on a bit long but it’s been good, it’s a wonderful place with a good bunch of people and always has been.”
At the completion of the Saturday’s match Geoff was cheered off the field with a guard of honour and inducted as a life member of the Cowra and District Soccer Club, with a new Player’s Choice trophy for best Referee for the Year being named in his honour.
Club President Derek Sullivan said the club would miss Geoff.
“On behalf of the club I’d like to personally thank Geoff for his 36 years of refereeing soccer in Cowra,” he said.
“He has been the one who has trained and qualified all our junior referees.
“Geoff has also been involved with twilight summer soccer and has been instrumental in keeping that running. His involvement with the committee of the soccer club, I think is unrivaled in this town, for someone to be committed that long to a sporting club,” he said.
Mr Sullivan said it was Geoff’s concern for the kids that stood out to him.
“Geoff’s own character, his calm and gentle nature really stands out to me. The way in which he guides the young referees is really inspiring,” he said.
“That has been his lot in life, because he chose to ensure the kids from the age of five right through to 17-18 could enjoy their sport.”
Geoff and wife Anne will be moving to Thirroul to retire.