Walter Pless on Association Football
- Written by Walter Pless
- Published: 06 March 2017
Photo: Kim Barker with his 2009 top referee award [PlessPix]
Tasmania’s leading referee for more than a decade, Kim Barker, has announced his retirement.
Barker was a top striker in his playing days and was Tasmania’s leading referee for almost two decades and he will be sorely missed.
Photo: Kim Barker (left) with fellow referees before a game [PlessPix]
Respected by players, spectators and his fellow referees, the game will be the poorer without him.
I interviewed Kim recently about his career in football and his future plans.
Walter Pless: When did you begin refereeing?
Kim Barker: I started refereeing around 1989 when I was employed over at the Risdon Prison. Basil Masters was always on my case to become a referee. I decided to take refereeing up and I told myself that I wanted to be the best referee in Tassie. I always liked the way Jack Johnston and Mathew Buck went around doing their job in the middle and I wanted the players and spectators to think, ‘Good, we have Kim today’. I feel that it goes a long way. I have refereed now for 28 years and my last 24 years has been at the top level of football.
Photo: Kim Barker with daughter Allira, who was also a referee [PlessPix]
WP: Why have you decided to retire?
KB: I was doing pre-season this year and it started to become a chore and I wasn’t enjoying it. I also thought it was time to give some time back to my wife and family, especially now that I have three beautiful grandchildren to spend time with.
WP: Will you still be involved in some capacity?
KB: No, I am walking away completely because I have done it all and I believe I have achieved what I want to do as a referee.
WP: Which awards have you won as a referee?
KB: I had won a few awards when I first started to referee in the lower levels, and when I became a level 1 referee after 5 years I then went on to win the referee of the year award on two occasions. Peter Angel then won two in a row. After that, I then went on to win 14 straight referee-of-the-year awards.
Photo: Kim Barker with a top scorer award when he was a player in 1986
WP: Which incidents in your career stand out?
KB: There were many mayor incidents. The best one was doing the State League grand final game between White Eagle and Launceston Juventus at Grove Road. An incident happened between Colin Shepherd and Snowy Compagne. I remember that they were both pushing and shoving each other and I was in the middle trying to break it up. It looked funny because two six-foot fellows were having a go and I looked like a little boy between them.
WP: Which was the biggest game you refereed.
KB: There have been many big games on the Mainland and in Tassie. The best game I believe was when Tasmania played the Olyroos because Harry Kewell was playing for the Olyroos.
WP: You were a very good striker when you were a player. What were some of your achievements as a player?
KB: Playing for the State in many national championships, and winning many cup finals. Also winning the leading goal-scorer for the clubs that I had played for, and also the goal I scored from the kick-off against Juventus at South Hobart ground.
Photo: Referee Kim Barker in his prime [PlessPix]
WP: You were in the Guinness Book of Records for a notable achievement as a youngster. What was it?
KB: I was playing for South Hobart under-12s and my brother John was coaching us at the time. We thought we were going to lose that game. It was against Hutchins. We ended up winning 25-0 and I had scored 21 goals.
WP: Which clubs did you play for?
KB: I was lucky to play for South Hobart for most of my soccer career, but after a falling out with them I ended up going to play for Eastern Suburbs, White Eagles, Taroona and, finally George Marino got me to play for Hobart Azzurri, who were a break-away club from Juventus.
Photo: Having taken the toss, Kim Barler signals a change of ends for the teams [PlessPix]
WP: Does it help you as a referee to have been a player at the top level?
KB: I think it does because as a player there is nothing worse than when a referee stops the game for petty things and you wanted to let the game flow more.
WP: Has the standard of refereeing improved over the years?
KB: I think it has to a certain degree because the game has changed so much now that you have to be fitter and your decision-making has to be quick and correct. Also, today’s game isn’t as physical as it was in the old days.
WP: What needs to be done to improve refereeing standards?
KB: FFT has to employ a full-time referee coach again if they really want to improve the standard of refereeing in Tasmania because the system they have in place now isn’t working.
Photo: Kim Barker (right) as assistant referee, together with assistant referee Stratos Plomaritis (left) and referee Brenton Kopra [PlessPix]