Tributes flow ahead of referee Richard Johnston's farewell
RICHARD Johnston influenced hundreds of Queensland's referees.
Johnston was well-known throughout the region as a regional physical education officer as well as an integral member of the Maryborough Rugby League Referee's Association from the late 1970s to early 1990s.
For Alan Ezzy, it is Johnston's leadership, advice, and a good-natured personality that allowed his progression to the Queensland Cup.
"When I joined the referee's association, he was one of those guys everyone talked about as a guy who can guide you, give you the right advice, and he did that with me,” Ezzy said.
"Through this, Richard and his helpers, I entered Queensland Cup. My first game was with Brad Adams and Tony Maksoud refereed it and it was a real honour to be part of that group.
"He got me into the confraternity, Colts grand finals, all these things, and it was on the back of his advice, encouragement and wisdom.
"He was a good referee's coach, but was a really good person.
"He cared about people.”
Johnston is credited as a driver of female involvement in the referee's ranks.
One of those is well-respected Marilyn McKenna, a referee with more than 30 years of experience as an official.
McKenna, who controlled the Bundaberg Rugby League women's game between Hervey Bay Seagulls and Isis Devils on Sunday afternoon, described Johnston as a mentor.
"He was probably my mentor,” McKenna said.
"He was a very good role model and touched a lot of people.”
Johnston also played a major role in current Sugar Coast Referees chairman Rod Christensen's formative years as an official.
Christensen said Johnston had a huge impact on local rugby league, and the game would feel the loss for some time.
"He influenced hundreds of referees throughout Queensland,” Ezzy said.
"One thing about Richard, he'd always confront you to your face,” he said.
"If you didn't hear from him you knew you were doing all right. He was upfront, honest, an all-round great human being.”
The late, great referee's funeral will be held at Buderim today.