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Journal by itellya

I never had great sporting ability, despite my father being named in Bunyip's football team of the era 1902-1940, but had reasonable success in cross country at University High, C Grade footy at Doutta Stars, cricket and football boundary umpiring. I was prompted to write this article as I enjoyed a coffee after a trip to Red Hill today to wander down Prossors Lane and to discover William Henry Blakeley's post office and bakery. Crackers Keenan was retelling his memories in sport on SEN 1116 and my memories started coming back. Hopefully some of my memories will be helpful for descendants of those I mention when they are writing the family history.

My chief memories of sport at Bank St, Ascot Vale (till the end of second term in grade 5) and Kensington Primary and Central School involved end to end footy. At Ascot Vale State School we had to "take something off our kicks" as Denis Cometti would say, so the footy wouldn't finish up in the caretaker's residence. At Kensington the footy was always going into the boys' toilet and shelter shed. After sport at Ormond Park, the boys would walk back up the hill along Lovers' Lane on the south side of Ormond Rd to find out why it had such a funny name. The Footscray (now Kensington) Road hill would provide a challenge of one's boyhood after sport at the South Ken. Flat, to ride a bike (or wobble more like it) all the way up to Derby St.

While we were living in North St, Ascot Vale, Peter O'Sullivan used to visit his girlfriend,((Rosemary Armstead?), who lived further up the street. Peter played for Essendon and were were thrilled when he joined in our end to end.

Dad barracked for South Melbourne and wanted to buy Swans' jumper for my brother and me. Mum said that she wasn't washing white jumpers so we ended up as Essendon supporters. Mum often took us into Dicky Reynold's newsagency on the south side of Puckle St, Moonee Ponds. The Thirds used to play the curtain raiser to the senior game and Les Pridham's grandmother, who used to sit near us in the grandstand, used to yell out "Lessie, you're blood's worth bottling!" every time he did something for the young bombers.It is well dcumented how the crowds used to swap ends each quarter with the great John Coleman but I also remember how he'd squat on his haunches in the goal square chewing P.K. and Juicy Fruit from the many packets thrown to him by adoring fans. I remember the spot at Windy Hill just south of the true centre half forward position at the Napier St end where he suffered the tragic knee injury. I remember him playing in the annual old boys' game against the school team but he couldn't even get off the ground; Hasting's Deadshot Jack was no more!

At Uni High, the sportsmaster was George Murray, who was captain-coach of Footscray Cricket Club for many years. In fifth form I made it to the seconds in cricket. We used to practice with the firsts and one day my hand was nearly broken when I fielded a drive hit by Graeme Beissel; it had travelled about 90 metres all the way along the ground and was still travelling at about ninety miles an hour. Graeme was equally good at football but retired from football after coming second in the Brownlow while playing for Essendon.

I boundary umpired for the Uni. High footy team while I was in form 5. They gave the Public Schools a lesson. Members of that team would have included Ron Carruthers (Collingwood), Terry Rodgers (Essendon), John Booth (Fitzroy) and Barry McAuliffe (North Melbourne). John Booth must have pulled off the worst kick in history when he missed from the goal square against Melbourne Grammar.

In the same year (1960), Holy Trinity started an under 16 cricket team in the Churches comp. Three of the grounds (at least)involved getting wet if you let the ball get past you for a four; they were Ormond Park, John Pascoe Fawkner Reserve and Lebanon Park (homes of Moonee Valley, Oak Park and Strathmore Football Clubs.)Fielding improved out of sight to avoid a wade in the muddy bottom of the Moonee Ponds Creek to retrieve the ball. Footballs would have often finished up in the creek too. One day we played at Lebanon Park. I thought it was strange to call an oval after a country, not knowing at the time that Lebanon was the town on the Mascoma River in New Hampshire, U.S.A. from which John Murray Peck of Cobb&Co. fame had come. One of the Strathmore lads hit a six which hit the wall of a house, just inches from a window, on the other side of Mascoma St. The lady of the house came storming across the road threatening all sorts of retribution but to no effect because young Daryl Gerlach launched a never-ending stream of sixes in the same direction. Daryl was a star footballer for Essendon not too much later.
DARYL HASLEM was very much a part of our cricket team despite being born with a disability that claimed his life quite early. We played our first season at the South Ken. Flat, having mowed a pitch on the grass. The flat frequently flooded and on the Friday before a match, perhaps the first, we went down to see how the pitch was. To our dismay we found that the council was pumping the water away from a flooded area-right onto our pitch. What to do? Dazza solved the problem quickly , taking the end of the hose back to the flooded area. This reminds me of an incident in 1951 when Phillip Holden, my brother and I found an old bathtub dumped at the flat when it was severely flooded. The next morning we tried a bit of rowing before school, arriving there half an hour late and covered with mud. We were not congratulated for our endeavours at an Olympic sport! Talking of rowing, I wonder if the Aussie rower at the London Games with the surname of Booth is related to John Booth of Uni High who was an excellent rower as well as playing footy for Fitzroy.

In 1961, I started at Teachers' College and became a V.F.L.Reserve Grade boundary umpire. Many of my games were in the Federal League but it was a thrill to do league thirds matches at Hawthorn, Collingwood etc. I used to do extra training at Royal Park with Lindsay Sullivan a senior V.F.L. boundary umpire and met many umpires on the senior list. Bobby Dumbrell was a fitness fanatic who could do sit ups and push ups for extra periods at extraordinary speed. Stan "Comfy" Tomlins was an ex V.F.L. footballer who could smoke a fag under the shower without getting it wet. Kevin Sleeth was a jovial fellow, not really a fitness freak like Bobby, but still had a great career with the V.F.L.
JACK POTTER was just one of the great sportsmen who graced the playing fields of University High School. I think I recall George Murray saying in an interview that Jack Potter was the best cricketer he ever coached at the school. Jack was several years ahead of me and had left school before I started but qualifies for these memoirs because of our joint involvement in umpiring. As a eighteen year old, to meet Jack had me in awe and despite our age difference we trained together and sat together at the meetings. Of course we had the connection of Uni High but we shared a passion for umpiring.
When I had a bye in umpiring, I used to have a game of footy with Flemington and Kensington Methodists which played at Debney's Paddock in Flemington. My brother and many of the lads I had been to school with or knew in other ways played for them. It must have been in 1962 that Jack joined the Reserve Grade list. I can't recall whether it was the first game of the season, in other words, Jack's first game, but it was certainly early in his career.
Flem. and Ken. Meths. played in a northern metropolitan churches comp. and Jack was appointed to their game, away, against Croxton Meths. Many of the early football teams, such as the two that merged to form the all conquering Tullamarine team of 1975-9, Essendon Baptists-St Johns and Ascot Vale Presbyterians (3 churches), were composed of members of congregations and it is likely that Ken Fraser and Ron Evans attended church parades with EBSJ players as 17 year olds before joining the Bombers. However the connection between church and club was decidedly looser in the case of Croxton Meths.
Now Jack had a great personality and, I believe, had every chance to rise quickly in umpiring ranks. Unfortunately many of the Croxton Meths. players had spent several hours in the pub before taking to the field. There had been several fiery episodes in the first half but the Croxton players came upon an alcohol fuelled strategy at half time; to thump an opponent each as soon as the ball was bounced. This happened and for the protection of the victims Jack was forced to call the game off. And as far as I know, that was the last game that Jack umpired. As sport fans would know, Jack was the captain of the Victorian cricket team for a great number of years, when the annual Boxing Day clashes with New South Wales featured most members of the Australian Test team.

As I lost about eight hours of typing last night and the Tulla and Red Hill journals are screaming, "What about me?", I am going to abandon the narrative for note form. To make sense of the chronology, I will briefly outline my residence and footy/umpiring involvement through the years and influences on my attitude to umpiring.

RESIDENCE. Ascot Vale 1943-September 1950; Kensington till 1964 with a brief break at Ballan; Castlemaine 1965-6; Maldon 1967; Flemington 1968- mid 1971; Tullamarine till recently.

FOOTBALL/ UMPIRING. V.F.L.Reserve Grade boundary (U)1961-2; Essendon District Football League field (U) 1963-4; Bendigo Football League boundary (U) 1965-6; Maldon (F)1967; V.F.L. Reserve Grade field (U) 1968-9; V.F.L. field (U) 1970; E.D.F.L. field and boundary for most of 1971 ending with Ascot Vale Presbyterians playing at Tulla; Doutta Stars 1972-4 (F); 1975-6 Tullamarine (F); E.D.F.L. field and boundary (U) 1977- mid 1983; V.F.A. boundary till end of 1990; A.F.L. boundary umpires' observer with responsibility for V.F.L. list 1991-2.

INFLUENCES ON UMPIRING. When I started with other youngsters such as IAN ARTSO, attending lectures at Richmond Postal Institute under advisor Harry Clayton (whose son Ian was a V.F.L. umpire and star athlete over longer distances), and read my first rule book, one line seeped into the depths of my brain: "The spirit of the laws is to keep the ball in motion." Thus rule 14b (a player lying on or over the ball is deemed to be in possession) became central to my thinking. My spirit of the laws also included unspoken aims that the lawmakers had obviously had in mind, namely to promote spectacular aerial contests and hard physical contests that would not cause serious injury. Then there was one more aim that almost every footballer or fan would agree with:look after the player going for the ball.

From the start, I umpired with my voice rather than my whistle. "Don't hold or shepherd, eyes on the ball, run and jump" in ruck and marking contests, saying and meaning "get it out" when a player was tackled. Nobody wrestled like Wayne Carey and Gary Ablett. Bodywork in ruck and marking contests was legitimate. I would average four ball ups a game. I once did a game while on holidays in Rockhampton in 1978, because two of the four umpires were unavailable, the fellow who'd done the first game had left and the bloke doing the second game was almost out on his feet at half time. I raced home to grab some gear and got back in time for the third game.The players afterwards told me that they had not believe a game of footy could flow so freely and complained that they wouldn't be able to walk for a week.(Major Queensland towns had six teams, thus three games each week , all played on the same ground. They also had six Rugby League teams.)

Harry Beitzel started the rot for me when he limited V.F.L.umpires to a maximum of 50 free kicks a game. That meant that in the split second of decision time in the first minute of a game, when a tackle was laid, the umpire would think "Gee, if I pay this one, I'll have to do it all day" instead of did he have prior opportunity and is he REALLY trying to handball. He'd end up balling it up, thus creating packs. The next player would hatch the ball rather than giving it up as a loose ball, knowing he would not be penalised. Commentators praised such hatchers. The tacked player's team mates would not bother to get into position for a handball because there was no need to do so any more.
Apart from my desire to keep the ball moving, I also wanted to prevent serious injury and it concerned me that Carlton's Adrian Gallagher used to duck his head to evade tackles. The advisors instructed the umpires not to give him a free for around the neck but I went a step further, penalising a player who ducked and was tackled with fair intention and announcing, so every player would hear, that I would not allow players to deliberately put themselves in danger and cause opponents the emotional trauma that Essendon's Jim Carstairs suffered when he accidentally blinded Brian Johnson of North Melbourne.

When the two umpire system came in, I could not operate with most umpires as they were turning the beautiful game into the rugby described above. Imagine what a farce it would be: footy at one end and rugby at the other. It wouldn't lead to consistency of decisions and would be terrible for the players. Therefore, I lost ambition to get to the top as a field umpire and dropped down a level every time two umpire games were introduced.My new ambition was to have the captain of the losing side congratulate me after the game. Then I fell in love with the Under 16 competition. This was the last the E.D.F.L. saw of the really good players. I remember with fondness a game at Oak Park (captain, Andrew Coates) when a skinny little Anthony Rock was introduced to me as Hadfield's captain. When I walked onto the ground, there was a fellow with a video camera, Ian Coates, who with Billy Dellar had made me so welcome on the A.F.L. list in 1970. Sadly Ian already had the motor neuron disease that killed him but I was to run many V.F.A. games with Andrew.
Paul Chapman played Under 16footy with Blessed St Oliver Plunkett's (BOPS), now North Coburg Saints, in the 1980's. I remember a game at Tullamarine in which the crew-cut Paul took two screamers. Paul umpired at the same time in the Oak Park social league and used his experience to invent a new way to draw a free for around the neck, bending his knees to lower his very erect head. Now of course the Selwoods of this world simply raise their arms so the tackle slides up. How easily most umpires are sucked in!

One great influence on my umpiring came about in 1965-6 when I boundary umpired in the Bendigo League. It did not have its own umpires group so the field umpires such as my old mate Max Beer were sent by the V.F.L. and each club had two boundary umpires who did only home games. I trained at Castlemaine's Camp Reserve and knew the players well through this, travelling to away games, activities such as car trials (where I won but lost!), basketball and the social interaction that is a part of country towns. I didn't want to report my mates, so to be fair, I didn't want to report anyone. This meant that I had to develop a sixth sense so that incidents could be prevented. Much of this was the backward look a split second after the ball had been propelled down the ground (See John Knott.)

This sixth sense was best illustrated by an incident in the 1987 V.F.A 2nd Division Grand Final between Brunswick and Oakleigh. Steve Parsons, a key participant in the infamous Windy Hill bloodbath while playing for Richmond, was trundling the ball out of Brunswick's last line of defence only metres from the left hand boundary line with my attention being on the line and the ball which inevitably cross the line. When I signalled to the field umpire I noticed a strange look on Steve's face. I immediately stepped between Steve and the Oakleigh player to whom he was bound and settled him down. That night the videotape revealed the reason for his silent agitation, a punch in the guts.

Generally the game sucks at the moment. The ruck wrestling between Dempsey and Moore decades ago is still far too evident and the player who desperately dives on the ball IN ORDER TO DO SOMETHING WITH IT is treated like a criminal while his opponents who jump on his back, tackle him around the neck, push the ball back under him and basically do everything in their power to break the spirit of the laws (to keep the ball in motion) are rewarded with a free kick for holding the ball. Unless umpires are instructed to remove the death penalty for diving on the ball and to ensure he is tackled properly, a rule needs to be introduced that a player in possession on the ground may only be tackled by a player who remains on his feet. This would probably remove 50 per cent of ball ups. Cox and Buddy Franklin throw their opponent out of aerial contests (surely you firstly HOLD something to throw it!

LES KANE. Former Hawthorn full forward coaching Castlemaine in 1965.
DEREK COWAN. Succeeded Killer Kane as coach and twice won the Bendigo League B&F, the Mitchelsen Medal.
KEVIN DELMENICO. The Delmenicos were prominent and were probably another Swiss Italian family that pioneered the Yandoit/Franklinford/Hepburn area. Kevin played for Footscray.
ROBBIE THOMPSON. Robbie was a star rover who went to Essendon. I think he played for High School in basketball.
PETER HALL. Peter was a tall player, like Kevin, who went to Carlton. Victoria's Minister for Education looks remarkably like the handsome young bloke I knew.
IAN SARTORI. Ian was a speedy skilful magpie, who like Kevin was probably a descendant of Swiss-Italians. (See Franklinford journal re Sartori.)
ROBBIE ROSS. I'm fairly sure Robbie was No 23 for Castlemaine. He was the receiver for High School's quick breaks that made opposition sides attack with only four players. (See Tarz Plowman.)
DAVID BROAD. David, like Robbie, was playing for Castlemaine as a 17 year old and was also in the High School basketball team. After a game one night, he took me into a meeting of the Develop Castlemaine Committee, and with such an interest in community affairs as a teenager, it was not surprising that he became a Shire Secretary.
KEVIN SHEARN. Kevin who was a mate from teachers'college could kick a country mile and played for Golden Square and I think was the coach. He had played for Northcote.
BRYAN CLEMENTS. Bryan was another teacher college mate, a ruckman who had played for Fitzroy. I think he was playing coach of Eaglehawk.
GEOFF BRYCE. Geoff worked for the S.E.C. and started basketball in Castlemaine. I hope their stadium is named after him. Geoff was not really tall and had some fingers missing but his rebounding and ball control was first class. He obtained the use of the Drill hall for our second season.
JIM BERRY. Jim, a policeman, and I were Geoff's lieutenants in getting the basketball association up and running,the three of us refereeing with a novice while they mainly observed until they had grasped the rules and gained confidence. Three of the teams were The Rebels, Fosters United and High School. The first season we played outdoors at St Mary's and then we moved into the Drill Hall. The High School team was mainly made up of young Castlemaine footballers such as Robbie Ross and his brother, Possum.Jim Berry was killed in a road accident not long after I left the 'Maine.
KEN HOWARTH. Ken, known as Lanky, was obviously tall and I believe played for Fosters United, in the basketball. Like Jim Berry, he was later killed in a road accident.
GEORGE SKINNER. George Skinner and John Bassett were the much feared opening bowlers for Muckleford. George went down to Melbourne to play District cricket if my memory is correct.
JOHN BASSETT. John and his wicket keeping brother, Graeme, made Muckleford a powerful side. Sadly, Graeme is very ill.
CHARLIE OLIVER (STEPHEN)The funny thing is that I never met Charlie. He was a cricket and footy legend. He played cricket for North Castlemaine which played in B Grade while Guildford and Maldon, for which I played, were in A Grade. In footy he was probably playing for Harcourt, Campbell's Creek or Newstead if he wasn't retired. During the summer, I couldn't wait to get my Castlemaine Mail and see if Charlie had made another century. Sadly Charlie lost an arm in an accident. His son Stephen, (presently C.E.O.of the Bendigo League?), was chased by Carlton and played a handful of games but preferred the country life and coached the maggies for some time. That reminds me of two other stars in the area, Ron Best and Doug Cail, century kicking full forwards, the latter playing for Northern United.
IAN O'HALLORAN Ian was a lovely fellow whom I think I met through basketball but it could have been footy. He was a former Geelong player.
TARZ PLOWMAN. Tarz (short for Tarzan)was Kyneton's full forward and was built like Sorrento's Scott Cameron only on a larger (not taller) scale. Not matter how high Robbie Ross jumped' he couldn't spoil Plowman's marks because Tarz was about a metre from back to front. Yet he could develop considerable speed on the lead and dish off a handball quickly to a team mate running towards goal.
RAY McCUMBER. I have a feeling that Keiran Keogh played for Maldon but the player that I remember best was Ray McCumber. His magnificently timed drop kicks usually travelled at least 60 metres and I never saw him fluff one.
REX BEACH. Rex Beach was the Shire Secretary at Maldon and was the captain and a very good batsman for Maldon during my season there.

JACK IRVING. Roughnut was a former V.F.A. umpire with a considerable playing background, who had much success as a V.F.L. umpire. When I returned to the Reserve Grade in 1868, he was the adviser.
BRYAN QUIRK. When I gained promotion to Kensington State School in 1968, I was Bryan's Grade 5 co-ordinator. He was a young man from Morwell making his mark on the wing for Carlton. Peter Dunleavey, the Art and Craft teacher, came to me on the last day of term 2, the day before my marriage, and said that Quirky wanted to see me. Reluctantly I left the two grades I was teaching (about 72 grade 5's) because Maureen Ginifer was ill. Quirky wasn't in his room.Returning, I was just about to pass the sick bay when its door opened and I was dragged inside by a host of bodyless arms which proved to belong to Dunleavey, Quirky and one or two others. They tied me on the bed which I regarded as being superior to being stripped. After they'd left I'd almost done a Houdini when they returned and retied me.Soon after a child from Maureen's grade came up and I asked if I was in the sick room. Peter's reply was a classic: "Yes but he's tied up at the moment." Bryan and I enjoyed recalling this incident much later when he was coaching Oakleigh in the V.F.A. Bryan had been the coach of the footy and cricket teams until his jaw was broken but was content to leave this task in my hands after he was able to resume teaching.
LAURIE DWYER. This speedy, skilful North Melbourne winger often conducted footy clinics at our school. Twinkletoes used his ballroom dancing experience to evade opponents in the heat of battle. What a true gentleman Laurie was!
ALBERT SCHOLL. Albert was the longtime secretary of the Churches Cricket Comp. and when I was 17, he arranged for me to play with North Essendon Meths. whose base was the Cross Keys Reserve. Our fast bowler was Vic Bubniw who was later a ten pin bowling champion. Vic was so fast that little me acting as fine leg/longstop often had to stop the ball which had only bounced once(on the pitch) inches from the flags.
BOB CHALMERS.Albert's death caused great sadness but Bob Chalmers was to fill the void. He was not only a longtime secretary of the comp. but wrote its history and that of the Aberfeldie school. His work in recording the history of the Essendon area is extraordinary. He also gave great service to Sport as secretary of the Essendon and District School Sports Association.
ALAN NASH, ROSS SMITH. When I was promoted to the V.F.L. list Alan was the adviser. I remember him telling the umpires not to pay free kicks for kicking in danger when somebody (St Kilda's Brownlow Medal winner, Ross Smith, was given as an example) dived for the ball when an opponent had commenced to kick it off the ground.
BILL DELLAR, ANDREW COATES. Some umpires get big-headed when they reach the top but these two certainly didn't. They were welcoming to the most insignificant list novice such as me.
BILLY RYAN'S TWIN BROTHERS. A mark that Bill Ryan took in the 1st semi in 1968 is on the wrbsite called A.F.L. Greatest Marks. It is far from the best mark that Billy ever took; it would rank about 50th in the marks I saw him take. He was spectacular five or six times a match! He had twin brothers that played in the Mallee. One match that I had in the area was a bit fishy: Rainbow v Bream. They might have played for one of those teams, or perhaps Chinkapook. Anyway, I had one bloke pegged as best on ground by quarter time. He'd take a stratospheric mark at centre half back and pass to the wing, a few tackles, a hand pass, a blind turn, another tackle, a handpass, a pressured high kick to the goal square, and, blow me down, that high flier at C.H.B.has plucked another mark from the clouds 15 yards out. This had gone on for twenty minutes and I thought I'd better have a look at his number, not an easy thing for a fieldie if he's in the right position. He took a mark near the centre and I pretended to run the wrong way. At half time, the team sheets arrived and I said to the bloke from Superman's club, "That number ** is sure taking some speckies!" The team manager replied,"He's Billy Ryan's brother. So is number**; they're twins!" That solved the mystery but now I had a problem. They had already taken about fifteen marks each so I had to work out who was to get the three votes. If you think I'm exaggerating about their marking numbers, consider that brother Bill took 22 marks against Hawthorn in 1968.
GRAEME LEYDIN. Graeme Leydin had been a year or two ahead of me at Uni High and had probably played in the same team as Bobby Clark (Footscray) and Ron Evans (Essendon.)He had been a former pupil at Flemington State School and was teaching there when Bryan Quirk's jaw was broken and I was propelled into the job of coach of the Kensington State School footy team. I taught the boys how to tense themselves when bumping, how to lead with the shoulder rather than the head when entering a pack and to always back up team mates in case of an overcooked pass or an errant bounce. We walked to the quaint ground next to the Flem and Ken bowling club, practising moving the ball from one end of the ground to the other against the stopwatch and playing practice matches against North Melbourne Colts. We played Graeme's team in the first game and beat the nineteen goals to one. In congratulating my boys after the game, Graeme said that he had been confident that his boys could win the premiership. As it turned our neither of our teams did so. Moonee Ponds West had about six boys a foot taller than any of ours and the ball never got low enough for the Kensington boys to reach it.
Graeme and I would meet at every meeting of the Ascot Vale School Sport Association, of which I became the secretary. When I started at Doutta Stars, Graeme was the coach.

JOHN SOMERVILLE.Our Club song was often sung after the senior side's games but rarely after my C Grade team's games. The tune was that of the Theme of The Mickey Mouse Club (D.O.U. T.T.A. S.T.A.R.S.) One memorable day the whole club celebrated as if a premiership had been won. That was probably the day that former Essendon star, John Somerville kicked about five goals from outside 50 yards to obtain victory for the C Grade side. As one would assume it was his only game for my side.
RAY FAIRBAIRN. Itchy was a veteran when I arrived at Douttas but was still a very good defender. His family had a bit to do with areas of interest for me, having been pioneers near Ballan (using Fairbairn Park as a holding paddock) and at Mt Martha.
MARCHESI BROTHERS.These two were tallish players who took fine overhead marks and probably sons of the North Melbourne player of a decade or so before.
ALAN GRACO. Alan Graco was a former Essendon player and his grandfather was probably the grantee of a closer settlement farm at East Keilor between the future Western Ring Rd and Norwood Drive houses (inclusive). The family had previously lived in Broadmeadows Township(Westmeadows) until 1919. Ten year old Norman Graco had accidentally shot David George Cargill, the son of the township's much loved butcher, Robert Cargill on 4-10-1919. The family was shunned by the townsfolk so they moved away. (The late Jack Hoctor, Google CARGILL, GRACO on trove.)
BOBBY PARSONS.Bobby was a ruckman and later acted as a trainer for the Stars before taking up umpiring with the E.D.F.L. with some success.
TAMBO, NARRER. Tambo was a very good player for the senior side and Narrer, a thin ruckman for the C Grade side. Someone on finding out that I played for Douttas asked me if I knew (whatever Narrer's real name was). I eventually found out that this person was actually Narrer but I've forgotten his real name now. It's very rare that anyone is actually called by his real name at a footy club!
PETER OWEN. Peter struggled to get a game in the under 17's (I was told) but I have never seen such a complete footballer outside the V.F.L. His disposal on his non-preferred foot under extreme pressure was something to marvel at. He was captain-coach of Tulla's last two or three of their fivepeat and then coached Strathmore to a premiership in 1980.
ROBBIE EVANS. It never occurred to me but it is possible that Robbie was related to Ron Evans. Ron and Ken Fraser had been recruited from Essendon Baptists-St John's and formed the attacking part of Essendon's spine for many years. Robbie was a high marking forward for Tulla but at Coburg he was a star full back for many years.
PATTY POTTER. Patty wasn't a footballer but he was part of the fabric of a great Club. Thanks to Patty, Tulla was one of the first local clubs to have every game videotaped for the coach's review and for fans to view in the clubrooms.
RAY CAMPBELL. Ray wins my label of most determined player ever. Some (I never heard them)said that he wasn't an A Grade player but I'd be a rich man if I'd got a quid every time I saw him beat three A Grade opponents all on his own.
TED JENNINGS. Ted Jennings was the President of Tulla during its fivepeat (1975-79)and set the tone of sportsmanship for every player and fan. He acted as goal umpire for the Tulla-Ascot Vale Presbyterian under 11 side years earlier when they broke the ice at the Lancefield Rd (Melrose Drive) Reserve at 8:30 or some such ungodly hour on Saturday mornings with me on the boundary, Betty Davies yelling and Marty Allinson coaching.
RUSSELL PARKER. Russell, who ran a place in the Stawell Gift and organised the Tullamarine Gift, was a dedicated secretary and trainer for the Demons for a great number of years.I hope he has been given a life membership. He was a good player, who with his brother, Robbie McDonald etc came from Ascot Vale Pressies.
LEO DINEEN. Leo's grandfather was the teacher at Tullamarine (Coders Lane; S.S.2613) in the 1930's and Leo was an early suburbanite on the Triangular Estate. He started Little Aths.(as part of the Youth Club with his wife Shirley) and was involved in the formation of almost every sporting body in Tulla. He started the SONIC a monthly community rag that let all the fledgling community organisations gain support. The Spring St Reserve, and probably the merger of Tulla-Ascot Pressies and E.B.S.J. to form the Tullamarine Football Club, were largely due to Councillor Leo Dineen.
In about 1990, two years into my research, I requested Keilor Council to rename the Spring St Reserve as Leo Dineen Reserve but they replied that they did not name things after people who were still alive. However his son had read in my histories that I hoped this would happen, and after Leo's death, he approached me to support his move to resubmit my request. Luckily my "The Suburb of Tullamarine", produced for the 1998 Back to Tullamarine had much material from Leo detailing how the Commomwealth had paid most of the cost of Broady, Sharps and Lancefield Rds and so on. I had researched Leo's negotiating skill that had solved Tullamarine's Battle of the Halls in old Progress Association minutes. With such evidence of Leo's great contribution to Tullamarine and Keilor Council, how could Hume Council refuse his son's request?
LINNY WESTCOMBE, BRENDAN SMITH. Linny and his brother (Rod?)played for Glenroy and Brendan Smith played for West Coburg. They both had short fuses and my sixth sense, developed at Castlemaine needed to be on full power when I did the boundary in their games. They were both great players.
CAN I HAVE MY FOOTY BACK UMPY? The mention of Glenroy has refreshed a funny game I did at the oval near the Oak Park Swimming Pool. Glenroy U.18's played their home games there because there were too many teams to fit on Sewell Reserve. This was before the freeway and there used to be a procession of trucks up Pascoe Vale Rd. The match ball very soon found its way onto Pakka Rd and went off with a wonderful bang. The spare ball met the same fate not too long after. The closest description of the atmosphere would have to be the current Mars Bar Advertisement when the mountaineer compares the brakeless train's woes in the frozen mountainous wastes with his experience on Mt Everest but says to a nearby youth: "But you have a Mars Bar son!" The difference in this situation was that the lad was a 10 year old with a full size football. He yielded to his "responsibility" but held his breath every time the ball went a few metres east of the goal to goal line!

(JOHN?) KNOTT, RICKY McLEAN.I think his name was John, but I'm not sure. He was one of the best field umpires I saw while boundary umpiring. He had great control and was onto behind the play stuff. Once we had Ascot Vale at the Walter St Reserve. Ascot Vale was a really historic club and had celebrated its centenary before it was booted out of the E.D.F.L. Their ground was used for umpire training, tribunal hearings and grand finals during my time.
After his V.F.L. career, Ricky McLean had gone to Ascot Vale , joining one or two brothers there. In this particular game Ricky McLean had used his strength and skill to gain possession and kick it, under pressure,60 metres down the ground where it was about to be a certain mark to an Ascot Vale forward, when the whistle blew. Ricky had a go at the opponent that had legitimately bumped him as he kicked and Knotty paid the free kick to the opponent. From then on, Ricky was an angel.
I had been told that Knotty had coached Yarraville to a premiership and when I entered Knott, Yarraville on trove, I discovered that the Knotts were a fairly old Yarraville family, a brother in law of Joseph Knott having drowned in 1919, a member of the family having transferred from Footscray to Yarraville in 1928 etc.
Postscript. Knotty's name was John, he replaced the leading goalkicker as Yarraville's spearhead in 1963 and became umpires' adviser of the Western Suburbs League for seasons 1981-2. (google.)

BARRY HARRISON RICHARD VANDERLOO ANDY CARRICK. Richard Vanderloo was the son of a Glenroy man awarded an O.B.E. (or O.A.M.?)for his services to the Glenroy community. I think Richard was a Pro runner and he had a beautiful running style. He and I did the boundary in the interstate game against(Norwood, S.A.)and A Grade grand final in 1981 but in the first game or so of the 1982 season, the adviser, Barry Harrison, told us both that we were far and away the best boundaries but he was starting a youth policy and we would not be getting the top job again. I was disappointed but he had a point because I was about 39. Barry was later a V.F.A. observer (See Ronny Chapman.) In 1982, to keep my morale up, I set myself a challenge, to run to suburbs alphabetically. Somehow or other, this scheme found its way into V.F.A.folklore and I blame Andy Carrick. I think I remember Andy coming over to the V.F.A. for a while. As well as running alphabetical suburbs (Kew for Q because Queenscliff was a bit far), I used to do hill climbs (10X Afton St etc)in preference to swallowing rubberised bitumen at Aberfeldie Park. One night I talked Andy into doing the Gaffney St hill ten times. We only did it once and he said he'd never do another road run with me unless I carried a cab fare.
JACK HARRIS. Jack was the E.D.F.L. Administrator. Barry Harrison decided to devote a meeting night in about May to goal setting. Umpires were challenged to achieve the highest possible goals. David Richmond, a colleague at Gladstone Park Primary was umpiring with the V.F.A.and I had intended to have a run with him at Royal Park. I went a few days after the motivational meeting but found they'd left the rooms. I caught them and as I made my way through the group looking for Dave, I was impressed with the atmosphere of comradeship that was so evident. Arriving back at the rooms, I met the Adviser, Jim Chapman, the equally little bugger I could never beat around Albert Park Lake.

MID 1883-1990.
TERRY WHEELER.DANNY DEL-RE. After a handful of games in the Panton Hills League, and some seconds games, glowing reports from observers such as Billy McWilliams saw me appointed to a Yarraville game in the last home and away round of 1983, not bad for a 40 year old recruit. I had to report a Yarraville player, the last V.F.A.umpire to do so as it was the club's last game. The next year I became a regular on the first division panel and as a Williamstown supporter in the glorious 1950's, looked forward to doing a Willy game. Despite my reluctance to report players, Danny Del-Re was a naughty youngster and I had to do my duty. Terry Wheeler defended Danny to no avail but I became a fan of his that night. His pre-game whispered instructions (audible through the thin umpires' room wall)were just so logical and measured, just like his defence of Danny at the tribunal. When Terry coached Footscray, I became a doggies fan. I think Terry had respect for my efforts as a boundary umpire as well because of comments I heard him make to his assistants.

PHIL CLEARY. He was a cheeky little mongrel. This incident would never happen today because umpires are required to stay detached from scuffles. But as you know by now, I wanted to prevent reports not make them. Terry Wheeler and Phil were wrestling on the ground and I crouched down, practically kneeling so they could see and hear me, and told them to cut it out. Cheerfully Phil, who was on top, agreed and carefully placing his hand on Terry's face, he stood up. I think Terry was laughing too hard to seek retribution.
KENNY MANSFIELD. I should have reported Kenny but I was laughing too hard. I don't know whether it was Phil's idea or just popped into Kenny's mind at that instant. Two tactics that I would never tolerate as a fieldie were very common in the V.F.A. and V.F.L. in the 1980's. The most serious one was the swinging tackle with a closed fist, such as the one that lit Steve Parson's fuse in the 1987 Grand Final. The other tactic was to stand over an opponent who had been awarded a mark or free and was on the ground. The opponent had to walk backwards, doubled over, to get out from between the legs of the man on the mark.
Kenny didn't back out and did not stay doubled over, he just stood up, with his neck and shoulders hoisting the "groinal area" (as the SEN1116 boys call it)of his opponent, and not really gently either. I really should have reported Kenny for misconduct but I'm glad I didn't because that was the last time I ever saw the Stand Over tactic used in any competition.
MARTY ALLISON CAREY HALL. Marty Allison coached the under 10 boys, who became under 12's with much success. The boys then moved up to the Tulla-Ascot Vale Presbyterian under 13's, with Geoff Chivell as coach. Three of the very good players at the time were Bryan Allison, Carey Hall and Ian Scown. Bryan had a long distinguished career with Coburg. Carey Hall became a champion cyclist and married Kathy Watt. Ian Scown had talent to burn and was able to evade opponents with clever weaving and sheer speed but thought he'd get away with it forever. In the school team nobody was allowed to bounce the ball unless a team mate had told him to; if this rule had applied elsewhere, Ian would have played in the V.F.L. Instead he gave the game away in the under 16's when opponents (now catching up in maturity) managed to chase him down.
RINO PRETTO AND BUTCH LITCHFIELD.The V.F.A. game that gave me the greatest enjoyment was a second division game between Oakleigh and Sunshine at Oakleigh. Rino kicked 10 goals for the Oaks and Butch kicked 10 for Sunshine. Sometimes numbers of goals kicked can seem better than what they really are. Such as when an unopposed player is running towards goal and the full back has the no-win situation of deciding whether to just let him kick the goal or to try to put him off and see a handpass lobbed to the full forward.
The game was a non-stop series of fierce man on man contests with hardly an uncontested possession any where. There were no players 30 metres away from an opponent as we see in many games today and the only way a player would be set free would be as the result of a great handpass or shepherd. The leading and footpassing was superb all over the ground but the passes to the full forwards were so clever. A lightning quick lead would be acknowledged with a grass cutter that required a dive forward,Or there would be a long kick to the spearhead whose making a spoil impossible. Or there would be a long kick to the spearhead, whose opponent had taken front position and would be held out of the drop zone by legitimate bodywork . Don't ask me who won. When football is played so beautifully and you are part of the game, what do scores matter.

JOHN SUMMERS, DOUG GOWER. As mentioned before there was tremendous friendship between everyone on the V.F.A. list. At training, people preferred to run with people who would help them gain maximum fitness and with whom they had a special bond. I made the finals panel in my first full season and was in it till my last season, 1990, when I received the token appointment of emergency boundary for the grand final. And when the sun and new- mown grass announced the start of the finals, I didn't need to find new training partners; the three amigos were all in the finals panel again. John and Doug ran many First Division grand finals. Johnny knew every player and every player knew him.
RICHARD LESLIE. Richard Leslie and Richard Vanderloo were the most stylish boundary umpires I ever saw. Both seemed to float across the ground. Richard Leslie had a fine A.F.L. career.
RON CHAPMAN. Ronny Chapman must have been one of the earliest triathletes (or perhaps he did biathlons, that is, running and cycling.) One day he turned up for training after a fall from his bike and looking at his lacerated skin nearly made me faint. I often did road runs with him when the hockey ground was too sloppy to run on but used to leave plenty of room between us or I would have finished up with cracked ribs as Ron's arm swing had his elbows always 30 centimetres from his body.
Ron's mother must have forgotten to wash his mouth out with soap when he was young, if you know what I mean. Ron and I were to run together one day and someone on the panel knew that Barry Harrison was observing. Barry had a passionate dislike, swearing, and some of the panel, who knew about this warned Chappie to watch his tongue. Did he? Not @$%^&*$% likely! Barry went red!
STEVE DONOHUE. Having umpired the 1985 and 1987 V.F.A.versus and 2nd Division grand finals, I decided that I had achieved all I could have visualised at Barry Harrison's motivation night and it was time for this 44 year old to retire. Part of the reason was that the V.F.L. was going to take over the V.F.A. and call it the Victorian State Football League.
I went back to the E.D.F.L. and did the first practice match at Strathmore. They hadn't even bothered to mark the lines properly and I was disgusted with the lack of the professionalism I had known in the V.F.A. So I pushed to the back of my mind the thought of the V.F.A. haters gloating over their revenge for Footscray's defeat of Essendon in the 1924 charity match and the defections of Ron Todd, Bob Pratt, Laurie Nash, Des Fothergill, Soapy Valence etc to the V.F.A.
Steve Donohue was the boundary umpire adviser for what was called the Development Squad, which was made up of promising youngsters from local leagues and some V.F.A. umpires who had remained. I think there was only one division now, and Steve told me that I'd have to start at the bottom and work my way up. It didn't take long until Steve was ringing Bill Dellar and telling him that there was a new boundary on the senior panel. When Steve answered Bill's query about how old he was, Bill spluttered, "Forty four, that's too old to be a goal umpire!"
BILL SUTTON. Bill was the boundary adviser for the V.F.L./A.F.L. Confusing isn't it? The V.F.A. became the V.F.L. and the V.F.L. became the A.F.L. How are footy historians going to explain what V.F.L.means when talking about the number of games played by a footballer in the last quarter of the 20th century. Was Barry Round a V.F.L, V.F.A. V.F.L. player? Bill was a top official in the professional running game.
At the end of the 1990 season, Steve Donohue, who obviously had respect for my dedication as a boundary umpire, since he made me the emergency in the Grand Final, asked me if I would help him as an observer. He had already used me as a mentor for youngsters such as Richard Leslie's brother, Sam.
Luckily there were several grounds near Tullamarine, such as Coburg, Preston and Brunswick, most of my observing being done at Coburg but Frankston and Preston were the best grounds for a good view. I would observe the last half of the reserves and the whole senior game. After a while Steve saw that I was capable of looking after the V.F.A. (that's what I still call it!) and he could help Bill with the senior boundaries.
ADAM McDONALD. There was one boundary that looked older than he probably was but the first time I saw him, I gave him my maximum rating of ten. And that happened every other time I saw him. A rating of 8.5 would probably get you onto the finals panel. I'd submit my finals panel at a meeting in early August and then we'd have another meeting early in our grand final week. "Are you sure?" asked Bill, Steve and Laurie Pope when I told them that I had nominated Adam McDonald for a grand final spot. I told them exactly why I was sure and Adam was in.
RABBIT FOOD.I quite like salad but after a long day,but you need something a bit more filling at 8p.m. The A.F.L. was so lousy that we struggled to get sandwiches or pies for our meetings, and don't forget that the travelling to observe was done at my own expense.We got a ticket to the grand final but there was no reserved seat so you had to get there at 9 a.m. and ask somebody to mind your seat while you went to the toilet.
I resigned after the 1992 season. I often wondered what had happened to that young fellow I had gone to bat for when others doubted his ability. The trouble was that I couldn't remember his name. Much later (2011) it popped into my head and I googled AFL, McDONALD. Well done, Adam!


by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2012-08-13 04:15:52

Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.

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by janilye on 2012-08-13 11:32:10

Crackers Keenan is still around? I'd forgotten about him. The last time I saw him was at the Wright Stephenson yearling sales back in I think 1973 or 4 and he was working for them in the ring as a 'spotter'. What a character!
They called Stan Tomlins comfy because he loved to be comfortable and was usually wearing his slippers. But tell me, how did he manage to keep his ciggie dry?
Looking forward to reading the rest of this journal itellya.

by itellya on 2012-08-19 05:37:34

I don't know how Comfy managed it; I guess that is why it stuck in my memory.

I have added a previously overlooked memory of the all too brief footy umpiring career of one of the greatest cricketers to never wear the baggy green, Jack Potter. (See 1962.)

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