Referee Steve Tubbs . . . would not take the field due to fears for his safety.
Referee Steve Tubbs . . . would not take the field due to fears for his safety.

Group 2 launch Gimbisi probe


CLAIMS have surfaced Group 2 was so wary of violence breaking out in the match between Port Macquarie and Gimbisi Valley on Sunday at the Hastings Regional Stadium that an offer was made by the Referees Appointments Board to overturn a suspension on referee David Dunn if he agreed to officiate.

Acknowledged for his intolerance of nonsense and an excellent rapport with Aboriginal players, Dunn declined the invitation.

"Even one of my biggest critics on the Board was in favour of me doing the job," Dunn confirmed.

"Instead I've decided to serve out the suspension, put the controversy from my time as chairman of the association behind me and start next season with a clean sheet."

Eventually, Steve Tubbs was appointed to what would have been his 100th first grade match and was instrumental in making the decision to abandon the game.

It followed a series of spiteful incidents that marred the under-18 fixture and reached such a crescendo the reserve grade match was abandoned minutes from completion.

"Some of the stuff that happened was even worse than what we saw the day the Warriors walked off the ground last year," veteran Sharks official Les Murphy told the Coffs Coast Advocate.

"Even the juniors got stuck into it and the officials from both clubs discussed that matter but we agreed because the game had semi final significance the fighting was out of character.

"But in almost 40 years with this club I've never seen anything as bad as the shit our blokes copped in reserve grade."

Murphy said one of the touch judges claimed he was in fear of his life.

Information has been received that touch judge was Tubbs.

"They gave the bloke hell and he was shaking like a leaf," he said.

"I can't believe we have to put up with this.

"Group 2 have twice tried to act by having Gimbisi barred but Country Rugby League keeps overturning them.

"Do they want to see somebody killed before they realise this is serious?"

Group secretary Peter O'Grady said he's disenchanted by this latest controversy surrounding Gimbisi but insists due process will be observed.

"Reports will be received from everybody involved and we'll discuss the issue," he said.

"Until that happens there's not much I can say that's helpful and I'll leave it to you to make your own inquiries as to what took place."

Sources reveal a discussion took place among the referees following the reserve grade abandonment with Steve Tubbs conveying his opinion to management the situation was too explosive to continue.

In a further meeting between Sharks and Warriors officials a deal was brokered whereby referee John Cole who had controlled the junior game would substitute for Tubbs with a proviso that any further violence would see immediate suspension of that match.

But in a third and decisive meeting of referees, total abandonment was decided upon as no guarantee could be made on safety of patrons or participants.

The Sharks were already on the field when this occurred while Gimbisi were still seeking candidates from lower grades to get them to full complement.

As senior official, Tubbs delivered the verdict and police were engaged to provide safe escort from the venue.

"Whatever Group 2 decides it will not be good for Gimbisi's chances of being in the 2007 competition," Murphy insisted.

In the last two weeks the Group 2 competition has reeled under an escalating series of frustrating incidents, several involving the Warriors (or their junior league club Dunghutti Broncos) that have club officials, players and supporters seething.

It suggests while the earlier part of the year was incident-free, a rising tide of dissatisfaction has simmered in recent weeks but remained out of the news pages.

Woolgoolga club have been forced to invite investigation into an incident during Sunday's clash with Orara Valley where it's alleged a spectator entered the field during the under-18 game and assaulted a player.

One parent has demanded video of the fracas and indicated the matter would be brought to police attention.

"We will advise the Group and get them to handle it," Seahorses secretary Paul Dwyer declared.

It came a week after Woolgoolga's reserve grade meeting with Gimbisi Valley was also abruptly terminated in the wake of a number of violent confrontations that continued in the first grade match won 70-22 by the Seahorses.

Dwyer declined again on Sunday to comment on the circumstances due to his Group position but after news of events from the Hastings filtered through, others were more forthcoming.

"When we played them (Gimbisi) our players only needed bandages from the shoulders upwards," a committeeman seethed when asking not to be named.

"If Crossy (coach John Cross) had brought the team from the field they would have got a standing ovation."

On Sunday, Steve Tubbs and his support staff made certain it would never come to that.

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