Bill Devorski – Official
Born on January 27, 1930 in Sophiasburg near Picton, Ontario, William “Bill” Devorski developed a love for sports as a young boy. Moving with his family to Guelph, Bill had a passion and skill for soccer and hockey as a student at Sacred Heart School and as a player on sports teams sponsored by the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). Bill excelled as an athlete and often said it was his love of sports that kept him on the right path. When Bill decided to get a job to help support his family as a teenager, he stayed involved in the game of soccer as a referee, making a few extra dollars along the way.
With a reputation for his no-nonsense officiating style, Devorski traveled to cities across Ontario including Toronto, Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo, St. Catharines and Hamilton. He became well known in Hamilton, refereeing regularly at Brian Timmis Stadium and the H.A.A.A. grounds. Bill officiated hundreds, if not thousands of games in the Ontario Inter City, Eastern Canadian Professional and National Soccer Leagues.
Nicknamed “The Entertainer,” Bill had a tough but fair, take-charge trademark as a referee. In the 1970s during a raucous game at Toronto’s Stanley Park with 6,000 fans, Devorski was struck by a rock thrown by someone in the stands, causing a nasty gash. It took nine stitches to close the wound but Devorski came back to finish the game, and was greeted with a standing ovation. A few weeks later during a heated match in Hamilton, Bill and his two linesmen had to wait for everyone to leave the stadium before the police would usher them out safely.
An affable referee with a straight forward approach, Bill would advise coaches and players at the start of each game that he’d let the players play, but wouldn’t tolerate any nonsense. Bill would often hear a coach say, “Okay boys. Devorski’s on the field today so make sure you keep it clean out there.” Bill was revered and respected most as an effective communicator whose unique charm and charisma helped calm the players on and off the pitch and was well liked as a “player’s referee.”
Having refereed at all levels of soccer, up to the professional ranks, and with a record of over 35 years of officiating hockey in the OHA, Devorski earned an induction to both the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Guelph Hall of Fame. His sons Paul and Greg followed in their dad’s footsteps, and have refereed in the highest echelons of the NHL and international hockey. Bill retired from both soccer and hockey in 1984, but his love for the game endured until he passed away on November 25, 2015. Bill Devorski’s legacy remains as one of the most highly respected referees to officiate both the games he loved.
We congratulate the Devorski family, with special appreciation to Bill’s wife, Bernadette, who stood by him during their 59-year marriage and throughout Bill’s 35-year officiating career.