Also one of the sport’s great characters, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s the inimitable Billy Thompson was amongst the world’s leading Rugby League referees. Although never playing the game himself, Billy has a strong Rugby League family heritage. His uncle played for Wakefield Trinity, whilst his father was a professional with Huddersfield, and played on the opposite wing to Albert Rosenfeld during the Australian’s record breaking 80 try 1913/14 season.
Billy first began refereeing when an injury ended his local football career in the early 1960s. He quickly graduated through the amateur scene around his hometown Huddersfield and was refereeing professional matches by the mid 1960s. His meteoric rise continued in the professional game and he took charge of his first major final when Leeds met Castleford in the in 1969 Championship decider. Over the next decade and half Billy refereed in 1 more Championship final, 3 Challenge Cup finals at Wembley, 3 Premiership finals and 11 Lancashire cup finals. He was also a first choice referee on the international stage, officiating in 3 World Cup competitions, including the final of the1977 tournament at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and 3 Great Britain test matches against Australia.
Billy is also renowned for his humour and love of the game, and these qualities have seen him become immensely popular in more recent times during a career as an after dinner speaker.