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If only new refs could match Bill

Inside Track | Published:

THUMBS up to the GFA for their initiative to use the Stranger Cup as a sampling ground to bring through young referees.

A giant of Guernsey sport on and off the sporting fields. Bill Robilliard. (23646126)

On the evidence of the first fortnight in the group stage qualifying, there is reason to be optimistic that some of the tyro officials will become familiar faces at senior games for years to come.

The refereeing scene has, in recent years, become stale – almost depressingly so.

But the likes of James Lihou, Steve Hutchinson, Dave O’Sullivan, Luke Pattimore and Omar Pitarch could change all that, the first mentioned particularly impressive with his decisiveness and fitness levels in two Stranger games I have seen him officiate.

And talking of refs... they did not come much better than Bill Robilliard, who died earlier this month.

Bill’s sporting CV was quite remarkable when you consider both his skills and administrative powers in football, cricket and with the old Recreation Committee and Sports Council.

That we have facilities such as Footes Lane and Beau Sejour Leisure Centre owes much to Bill’s influence.

He played Junior Island football just after the Occupation but his refereeing was in a different league, as was his wicket-keeping in the summer months.

His much-valued refereeing earned him three Muratti lines and one Upton line, long before it came the norm for a CI referee to take charge of the second biggest game in the annual CI football calendar.

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In terms of cricket, he was an island captain who was a fixture in the side for a decade embracing the late ’50s and early ’60s.

Bill was also at the fulcrum of the great Rovers cricket teams of the 1960s, where he bravely stood up to bowlers such as Ricky Mills, and had fantastic hand-eye coordination.

In that time he often played at club and representative level with Vince Chapell, who has died this week.

Chapell first played for Guernsey in 1951 and four years later, in what was his last representative game, scored 22 with the bat and bowled a mammoth 20-3-57-3 at Victoria College.

The Star match report recorded that ‘...it was mainly due to the steadiness and accuracy of the bowling that Jersey failed to make the required 18 runs to win’.

Rob Batiste

By Rob Batiste
author

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