The NSWRL community is saddened by the death of former first grade referee Kevin “Bilko" Roberts, following a long illness.
Kevin became a referee following a distinguished playing career with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
After being graded in 1972, he made his First Grade debut in 1975 in a match between Balmain and St George at Leichhardt Oval.
Over the next 14 seasons Kevin officiated in 273 NSW Rugby League First Grade matches, including the Grand Finals in 1983, 84 and 85.
Kevin also refereed six State of Origins, six Tests (including the 1985 World Cup), four City vs Country games and a NSW vs Great Britain Lions match.
He was awarded Life Membership of the NSW Referees Association in 1992 and the NSWRL in 2003, as well as being a Life Member of the Eastern Suburbs and South Sydney Referees' Associations and the NSW Police Rugby League. He was Association Patron for six years.
Kevin also won the George and Amy Hanson Award in 2000, Australian Sports Medal in 2000, the Eric Cox Medal in 2012 and was awarded the Police Service Medal during his career of more than 40 years in the Police Force.
NSWRL Referees’ Association Chairman Paul Simpkins paid tribute to Kevin for his significant contribution to Rugby League as a player, referee, coach and mentor.
"While Kevin participated at the top of the game he also returned to grass roots in the Districts to help referees develop and realise their potential,” Simpkins said.
"Kevin was instrumental in the early days of Men of League. Working alongside Jim Hall he signed up many members to ensure the future of this great organisation.
"As a sport we need people like Kevin to ensure the development of the game and to ensure people are looked after. I and many others will forever be grateful for Kevin's involvement in Rugby League.
"The game will miss him."
The NSWRL passes on its condolence to Kevin's wife Annette and family.