13 Aug 2021

The RFL pays tribute to former referee John Kendrew

The RFL pays tribute to former referee John Kendrew

The RFL pays tribute to John Kendrew, the popular former referee who passed away this week at his home in Castleford.

John was 71, and was also secretary of the Castleford Former Players Association.

He was a senior referee from 1982 to 1994, and known affectionately as “The Singing Ref” as he was also a familiar face on the club circuit, performing with his guitar – although his vocation was as a teacher.

Ben Thaler, the elder statesman of the RFL’s current panel of full-time match officials, said: “Like many others in the refereeing community and well beyond, I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of John’s passing.

“He was one of life’s great characters, and was always there if anyone needed him for anything. Only weeks ago at the Challenge Cup Final, he was leading the Castleford supporters singing Sweet Caroline in Box Park at Wembley.

“He was also a very fine referee, who earned respect from players. John touched the hearts of many people, as has already been evident from the tributes that have come in from around the world - and today a lot of people will be feeling the sadness of his passing.”

John Kendrew with Keith Howe and his 2017 Castleford Tiger of the Year award, which he was presented with at the Castleford RL Players Association 2017 reunion. Picture: Matthew Merrick