ONE OF WA’s greatest and most decorated referees, Football Hall of Fame inductee Barry Harwood, is leaving Perth next month to live overseas.
Barry said: “I would very much like to extend A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU to everyone that has been a part of my life in Perth especially in the Western Australian Football World (The Round Ball Game) and in the Professional Massage / Fitness Industry. THANK YOU.”
He began his refereeing career in England in 1963 – he was born in Rotherham – and continued in WA with his first game in 1967 until he retired in 1991.
“I remember it well,” he said. “I left England on a Thursday and saw my first football match in Perth three days later.
“I was at a game at the Esplanade and Roy Stedman was the referee. I spoke to him afterwards and he told me who to contact regarding getting involved in refereeing in WA.”
He was initially awarded a Class 111 certificate by the WA Soccer Referees, replacing the Class 1 from England.
The following year he was promoted to First Division action. His first game was Cottesloe v Swan Valley – and he was the man in the middle when the WA State team hosted South Australia in 1968 and when Greece visited Perth in 1969. He was the first WA referee to offiate in the NSL.
He was elevated to FIFA’s list in 1972 and by 1974 he was a familiar figure in representative games, taking charge when Aberdeen and Chelsea came to Perth to take on WA.
In 1975 he was awarded the Best Referee honour when officiating at the Marah Halim Cup tournament in Indonesia. He could not, however, referee the Grand Final as WA were involved, beating South Korea in the showdown.
He scooped the same award the following year in Indonesia, and again was denied the Grand Final accolade with WA again making the trophy-deciding game and again beating South Korea.
“It would have been satisfying to be involved in those finals, but the organisers ruled that because WA were one of the finalists it just wasn’t possible,” he said. “But I did the final of an Asian event when I refereed the Kings Cup final in Thailand a few years later.”
Barry was the referee at full international level when Australia played Israel in Melbourne in 1977 and when the Socceroos took on Czechoslovakia, again in Melbourne, in 1980.
When the FIFA World Youth Championship was played in Australia in 1981, Barry outshone some of the world’s best whistlers when he showed them a clean pair of heels in the Fitness Test. He was declared FIFA’s Fittest Referee when he covered 3,400m in the 12 minute run.
When Australia celebrated the Bi-Centennial Gold Cup tournament in Adelaide in 1988, Barry refereed the opening game between Argentina and Saudi Arabia, and he was the linesman when the Socceroos played Brazil.
His final major game was the D’Orsogna Cup final in 1991, when he also won the Golden Whistle award, a fitting tribute before his retirement.
He was appropriately inducted into the Hall of Recognition at the Football Hall of Fame WA’s initial ceremony in 1996.