Brisbane boy and Australia's best ever ref Mark Shields will end his refereeing career in Round 8 of the current A-League season, in 3 weeks. Last year Mark was named Asia's top ref and he put in a stand out performance in the 2006 World Cup.
Mark said today that he was spending too much time away from his young family. He leaves at the top of his game and reputation.
He will be missed from the game. While he could never ref the Socceroos, he lifted the tone and performance of Asian refereeing.
He is head and shoulders above other A-League refs and the FFA's only full time ref. Matthew Breeze is left as Australia's most senior FIFA ref. Mark and Matthew, who marches to a different drum, have huge credibility as people prepared to call things as they see them - uninfluenced by players nagging in their ears. (no names here Archie).
The FFA now faces a major challenge in finding a credible counter-part to Breeze. Refereeing top games almost requires eyes in the back of your head. Some choices don't seem quite up to the challenge (see my elephants story).
We will miss you Mark and will teams, like the Roar, who sought your council. You helped put Brisbane on the world football map. Thank you.