Leading Football South Coast whistleblower Bobby Mazevski will referee a record eighth Illawarra Premier League grand final on Sunday when Wollongong Olympic take on Wollongong United at WIN Stadium.
The showpiece event will also see the curtains drawn on the veteran match official’s career with Mazevski making the decision after he received his grand final appointment on Monday evening.
“I think the time is right for me to hang up the whistle after 35-odd years of refereeing,” Mazevski said.
“I’ve achieved everything I’ve wanted locally and more and I’ve probably refereed well in excess of 500 first-grade games – it’s been a hell of a ride.
“I wanted to finish on the back of a full season, or something close to one, and with the impact of Covid in the last couple of years I felt there was some unfinished business and that I had more in the tank.
“I think I have refereed well enough to earn it so it’s as good a time as any to call it a day on a big occasion with two good sides at WIN Stadium.”
Mazevski’s first senior game was between Aris and Coniston at the old Brandon Park No.2 in the early 1990s and in 1995, he became the youngest referee to officiate a Premier League grand final.
“I was 25 at the time and I had been in the top grade for about three years,” he said.
“I remember there were close to 5000 people that day at Brandon Park to watch Port Kembla and Lysaghts – it was one of the biggest crowds we’ve had for a grand final.
“On the morning of the game, someone had broken into the ground to paint the goals Lysaghts’ colours which obviously doesn’t conform to the laws of the game so we had to scramble to find white paint to paint the goals.”
“In the early days, it was a big big deal to referee a Premier League grand final because the panel of referees included Peter Vrtkovski and Strebre Delovski coming through. There were also the likes of Tony Bosevski and Stephen Jaros as well.
“After refereeing my first one or two grand finals, my goal was to reach six grand finals and surpass the great Mario Mastroianni (who refereed five).”
Mazevski, a former goalkeeper, turned his focus to refereeing due to the mentorship of Michael Shedden who “guided him through to the top grade” and told him “what a young referee needed to hear”.
Outside of the Illawarra Premier League, Mazevski has also refereed multiple District League and Bert Bampton Cup finals, as well as three years in the National Youth League and earlier this year he oversaw A-League Men’s side Macarthur’s trial match against Wollongong United.
Mazevski said he was grateful to many who contributed to his refereeing career, however, he said he couldn’t have done it without the support of his family, including his wife, Vi, and children Monica and Matt.
“More than anyone else I’ve got to thank my family,” he said.
“All of this refereeing on weekends, being away for hours and hours, half days, full days, it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my wife and kids.
“It’s easy to take it for granted, but I’ve been away from home putting back into the game while my family has been back at home so I am looking forward to spending more time with them.”
Mazevski, who is also the Men’s Premiership competitions co-ordinator, will have “a little more time for golf” after Sunday, though he said he wants to assist by mentoring younger referees in the years ahead.
Bobby Mazevski’s record eight Illawarra Premier League grand finals
- 1995, Port Kembla 1 Lysaghts 0
- 2000, Port Kembla 2 Wollongong Olympic 0
- 2006, Bulli 1 Picton 2
- 2009, Dandaloo 4 Bulli 0
- 2015, Dapto Dandaloo Fury 0 Wollongong United 1 AET
- 2016, Albion Park White Eagles 4 Kemblawarra Fury 2
- 2019, Wollongong Olympic 1 Corrimal Rangers 2,
- 2022, Wollongong Olympic v Wollongong United
2022 Illawarra Premier League grand final match officials
- Referee: Bobby Mazevski
- Assistant Referee 1: Caleb Blanch
- Assistant Referee 2: Harrison Fisher
- Fourth Official: Nick Ryan
Article by Dylan Arvela, on Twitter @dylanarvela
Header photo by JC Sports Photography