Who Is Walter Pless?


A teacher by profession, but is now in his 38th year as a football writer. Has written for "Soccer Action" (Melbourne), "Australian Soccer Weekly" (Sydney) and "World Soccer" (London), as well as for several Tasmanian newspapers. Currently contributing to "Goal!Weekly" in Melbourne and the Australian magazine "Soccer International". Played for Croatia-Glenorchy, Caledonians, Metro, Rapid and University in Tasmania, as well as in the United States of America. Coached University, Metro and Croatia-Glenorchy.

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Kim Barker 2009 Referee of the Year blog

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.

Kim Barker Hanna Manuela Brenton Kopra Patrick Galloweay 22 01 11 blog

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.

Kim and Allira Barker 11 03 13 blog

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.

Kim Barker 8 Oct 1986 blog

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.

Kim Barker referee blog

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.

KIm Barker signals

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.

Kopra with Plomaritis and Barker blog

Photo:  Kim Barker (right) as assistant referee, together with assistant referee Stratos Plomaritis (left) and referee Brenton Kopra [PlessPix]


+5 #37 Cheers 2017-03-12 05:18
Quoting anon:
Oh Dear!!!

At least previously we had 1 in 4 chance of having a decent referee in the NPL.

All our hopes are now on Charlie!

Question to u my friend any are there any other refs out there that can satisfy ur negativity comments. And remember without these guys each week there will be no games
So lets at least try and support them. Thats all i am saying.
+2 #36 Ian Colhoun 2017-03-11 22:21
Sad to see Kims decision to retire, definitely the cornerstone and leading example of refereeing in Tasmania for as long as I have been a referee. You don't win the refereeing award for that long without having the respect and admiration of both clubs and your refereeing peers. Was also an assessor and development officer during his career, would be great if he decided to continue at some stage in the future. Someone that I and other referees have always looked up to and learned from.
+5 #35 Mills 2017-03-10 06:01
Quoting Footballfan:
Not sure what roster you're looking at npl and challenge starts this weekend and champ and champ 1 one starts next weekend.

Apologies. Should have clarified, social competitions start 1 April.
+2 #34 Gordon Jablonski 2017-03-10 05:52
A man of ability that will be sorely missed. Hopefully he will put his hand up to assist with the administration of the referees into the future and bring his brand of fairness and equity into the organisation. Hope to catch up at a game Kim and perhaps buy you an ale.
+5 #33 Stanley Matthews 2017-03-10 04:26
Always enjoy your interviews, Walter.

You ask good questions.
+4 #32 On the Sidelines 2017-03-09 22:54
Always enjoyed seeing Kim in the middle of the park. Clear decision making and he allowed the game to flow. Also liked the way he 'advised' players, when he could sense frustration levels rising. A real loss to the game. Safe travels on the rest of life's journey Kim.
+2 #31 Footballfan 2017-03-09 21:08
Not sure what roster you're looking at npl and challenge starts this weekend and champ and champ 1 one starts next weekend.
+3 #30 Steve Elliott 2017-03-09 06:15
Have always enjoyed your refereeing both from the stands and as a player. Ive also enjoyed your company over a beer on many occasions. Your going to be a big loss to the game mate, enjoy retirement old boy.
+5 #29 Franco Previdi 2017-03-09 03:08
Kim , you will be missed !!!! its sad to see you resign the referee Job a gentleman as person and outstanding referee always have a smile and have fun in the middle of a game. You will be missed hope to see you soon Ciao
-6 #28 Mills 2017-03-09 01:29
Quoting Anon:
If you give clubs less than a weeks notice on the times and days for the games and organise the first round over a long weekend you are going to have a bad time.

In another other workplace you would be sacked for being so useless.

Quoting Wtf:
Completely off topic. The youth gala days that were going to be held the next 3 weekends have been cancelled. Another Tasmanian football shambles.

Same with the start of the Summer Cup in February. Long weekend, great weather and they wonder why teams forfeit or pull the pin. I know there will be comments re NPL teams and Championship teams about professionalism etc. however social comps do not have or require that level of commitment. Oh yes and Finals this weekend then a 3 week wait to the season proper. Hopefully lessons may be learnt this year for better scheduling of future comps. Good Luck to all the teams competing in the Finals this weekend.

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