Rugby League


23 Jan 2023

RFL pay tribute to Fred Lindop MBE

RFL pay tribute to Fred Lindop MBE

The RFL sends its condolences to the family and friends of Fred Lindop MBE, and pays tribute to one of the greatest Rugby League referees – who has died at the age of 84.

Fred refereed four Challenge Cup Finals at Wembley, including the famous drawn Final of 1982 when he also took charge of the replay at Elland Road, in addition to a host of other major matches in a top-level career which spanned 21 years.

After his retirement following the 1988 Cup Final between Wigan and Halifax, he was appointed to a new role as Controller of Referees by David Oxley CBE – the RFL Chief Executive, who has also been mourned and celebrated in the last 24 hours following his death at the weekend.

Fred Lindop received the MBE in 1989 for services to Rugby League and was added to the RFL’s Roll of Honour in 2009, and continued to referee in the community game beyond the age of 70.

Simon Johnson, the RFL Chair, said: “Following the sad loss of David Oxley, the sport of Rugby League will again be united in paying tribute to Fred Lindop for his immense contribution.

“He showed remarkable longevity as a referee, earning respect from players and admiration from supporters and television viewers, as he became a familiar figure on the BBC on winter Saturday afternoons.

“Fred’s contribution to Rugby League went well beyond his refereeing, as he also played a key part in developing the sport from the University of Sheffield to the community clubs Eastmoor Dragons and Oulton Raiders in Wakefield.

“On behalf of the RFL and the sport, we send condolences to his family and friends.”

Ben Thaler, the senior member of the RFL’s full-time match officials squad, added: “As a fellow member of the Wakefield society, Fred was a role model for me – and he will go down as one of the greatest officials to ever grace the game of Rugby League.

“His contribution to the sport goes well beyond that of a referee, inspiring many young players through the amateur clubs of Eastmoor and Oulton as well as his dedication to moving officials to a new level - he really was a one off. 

“He’d been a promising player before he suffered a serious injury which led to him taking up refereeing in 1957, and he was still refereeing 50 years later – he was a fitness freak. 

“He was promoted to the Grade One list in 1967 – and 13 games later, he was appointed to referee the first Test of the 1967 Ashes series at Headingley.”

Lindop took charge of all three matches in that series, with Australia overturning their defeat at Headingley to retain the Ashes with victories at White City in London and Station Road, Swinton, and he was also in charge for the 1970 World Cup Final which was dubbed “The Battle of Headingley” after Australia won a brutal match 12-7 – sending off Billy Smith and Syd Hynes in the closing stages.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Varley