BRIAN Robinson has spent over five decades living and breathing sport. It's why he feels compelled to give back.
The man they call 'Pencil' was rewarded for his contribution to Australian Rules and cricket by being named the Ted Ryder Sports Memorial Award winner on Wagga's Australia Day honours list.
A life member at South Wagga Cricket Club, his dedication to the Blues meant he felt compelled to leave Monday's awards ceremony slightly early to watch son, Joel, captain them in Monday's Twenty20 grand final.
Robinson, 63, is also a familiar face across Riverina football grounds, nowadays thanks to 436 games and counting as a central umpire.
He reckons he played "probably double that" for about seven teams across the Riverina and Farrer Leagues, winning first grade flags with North Wagga and South Wagga.
Robinson made his first grade football for North Wagga aged 16, and didn't call it quits until he was 42.
"I grew up in Ariah Park originally and came to Wagga. I played footy with about seven different clubs around the area, and about the same with cricket as well," he said.
The past two decades have been spent helping with cricket coaching at South Wagga and being on their committee at various stages, as well as football umpiring.
"Hopefully I can go again (umpiring) this year. I've got 14 to go until 450 games so I'm keen for that," he said.
"The fitness and the camaraderie with the blokes (keeps me coming back), and I like all the banter that comes with it.
"I've played sport all my life. As I said in my speech last night (Monday), I don't feel like there's enough guys who give enough back after they've finished playing.
"That's why we don't have enough umpires at the moment, cricket or football."
Robinson estimates he was part of about half a dozen flags in second grade cricket, but couldn't quite tick first grade off his list after playing in a couple of grand finals.
While the recognition is welcome, Robinson says the benefits he gets from staying involved in sport himself are reward enough.
His wife, Sheryl, is also a South Wagga Blues life member after filling a number of official roles for the club.
"I knew Ted ages ago when he was alive and he was just sports mad. I've played sport all my life, and to get that recognition is nice," he said.
"You don't do it for that, that's for sure, especially in football umpiring. If you did it for the money you wouldn't be doing it either."
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