Vale Kevin ‘Bilko’ Roberts

Born 11 September 1941. Passed away 2 January 2018.
Men of League Foundation member number 66.

Rugby league lost a great servant when Kevin Roberts passed away on 2 January 2018, aged 76.

A highly respected and well liked man, Kevin played his junior football with Chelsea United before coming into grade with South Sydney in 1960.

In eight seasons with the Rabbitohs, he played 99 grade games, including 13 in first-grade. He was also a member of Souths’ 1960 winning Presidents Cup team.

While a student at Paddington Junior Tech, his 21 year old Woodwork teacher was Arthur Summons, who went on to become a dual rugby league/rugby union International.

After leaving school, Kevin joined the NSW Police Force and finished with an outstanding 40 plus years of service. In 1958, the talented halfback/five-eighth played in a NSW Police Cadets team, which included Probationary Constable, John Raper. In 2008, he was named as halfback in the NSW Police team of the Century, along with 10 Australian representatives.

Keen to give back to the game he loved, ‘Bilko’, as he was known for many years, began refereeing in the South Sydney Junior League soon after he finished as a player. He was graded by the NSWRL in 1972 and made his first-grade debut as a whistleblower at Leichhardt Oval on Anzac Day 1975, when St. George beat Balmain 31-5.

This was the beginning of a great refereeing career at the top level. He finished in 1988, after 14 seasons, with 273 first-grade games, six State of Origins, six Test matches (including the 1985 World Cup) and three Grand Finals (1983, 1984 and 1985) on his CV. As well as this, he controlled four City-Country games and a NSW-Great Britain clash in 1979.

Keen to continue helping the rugby league community, Kevin was a Foundation member and committeeman of the Men of League Foundation. He was also a member of the Men of League Foundation Board when it was incorporated and held this position for several years until ill health forced his resignation.

Kevin was a Life Member of the South Sydney Referees Association, the Eastern Suburbs Referees Association, the NSW Police Rugby League, the NSWRL Referees Association and the NSW Rugby League. He was awarded a Police Service Medal and an Australian Sports Medal, while he also won several citations in the referees association such as the Eric Cox medal in 2012 and the George and Amy Hanson award in 2000.

A humble, personable and friendly man, Kevin was admired in all walks of life. He was never critical of anyone, while he idolised his wife of 52 years, Annette, their two daughters and three grandchildren.

Kevin was first diagnosed with dementia 17 years ago and for the past couple of years, has been residing in a nursing home. In this period, Annette was at his side twice daily, ensuring that he was comfortable and well fed.

His funeral service will be held this Wednesday 10 January 2018, at the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Centre, 49 Military Road, Matraville.

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