This award was struck in 2000 and named in recognition of the outstanding contribution Bill Sutton has made to AFL boundary umpiring in general and to the development and career advancement of young boundary umpires in particular.
An outstanding world class professional foot runner, Bill umpired his first VFL match on 11 April 1970, Heritage Number 333, and over the next seven years officiated at 127 VFL matches and was selected in five finals series in which he umpired six Finals matches including the 1974 VFL Grand Final. He retired after the 1976 season.
He then spent three seasons with North Melbourne Football Club in the Victorian Football League under renowned coach Ron Barassi as specialist running coach. In 1984 he returned to the VFL as specialist running coach to the VFL umpiring panels.
Bill was appointed by the VFL in 1986 as boundary umpires’ coach, and in this role oversaw the coaching of the Victorian panel. In 1993 this position was upgraded to AFL national director of boundary umpiring which Bill held until 1995. In this role, he was responsible for coaching on a national scale and for the selection and performance assessment of boundary umpires at national level. This was a challenging task which Bill successfully managed and under his leadership umpires from all states were eventually integrated into the AFL panel.
During his time as director and coach, he focussed on the development of the younger umpires coming through the ranks, many of whom went on to achieve outstanding success at the highest level.
He then spent 4 seasons, 1996-99, with the Eastern Football League as boundary umpires’ coach before returning to the AFL in 2001 as the AFL national technical consultant (boundary), a position he successfully held until the end of 2002.
Bill Sutton was elected as an honorary life member of the VFLUA in 1989 for his outstanding service to umpiring and his contributions are further recognised through the naming of this most prestigious award as The Bill Sutton Medallion.