“I only wanted to umpire for one year to see if I liked it,” exclaimed Vic Parker who was celebrated by the Eastern Football League Umpires Association this year, marking his 60th year in footy.
One consistent trait that ran through his umpiring career wasn’t so meritorious; he was sacked or moved on from every umpiring group he was involved with.
Vic commenced playing football with the Box Hill Baptist Pioneers in the churches competition. “I played for three years before I kept getting injured and pulling up sore from games. I was working as a carpenter and joiner and had been putting off a mate who was trying to convince me to umpire for quite some time,” explained Vic.
“I started umpiring in 1957 in the East Suburban League. I got sacked at the start of ’58 for not following instructions on the correct procedure for reporting players. I went into a team huddle at 3/4 time and got belted by a number of team mates of the player I reported. I learned that lesson pretty quickly. From there I went to the VFL reserve grade where Doug Lamb employed me straight away. I lasted 3 years before I made the senior VFL panel in 1961.”
“I got married in 1960 and spending most weekends in the country umpiring was pretty tough on the family but it supplemented my income as a carpenter and was very valuable. In 1967 I began working in local government as a building inspector and couldn’t get the time off to umpire so I had to reluctantly retire. I went back to the churches competition for four years from 1968 to ’71 and then onto the Eastern District Football league under Len Eddy between 1972 and ’75.”
“AFLUA life member, Ross Raphael, asked me to go to the VFA to umpire in 1976. Due to some unfortunate events I ended up in hospital before my first VFA game. While doing volunteer work I put a nail through my big toe on the morning of my game and was subsequently sacked.”
“I spent four years at the Yarra Valley Mountain District Football League umpiring before it was time to hang up the whistle.”
Not to be outdone Vic received a letter from Doug Lamb asking him to rejoin the VFL reserve grade again this time as a goal umpire. He gets the nod to join the panel and so commences another phase of his career. This time he umpires a senior VFL game in 1981 when the senior panel of goal umpires go out on strike. “I literally had 10 seconds to say yes or no. I was disappointed that we had received no directive from the VFLUA so we did the games. I had Hawthorn v Footscray. It never went down as a statistic and to this day it is not recognised by the AFLUA.”
Vic recounts a couple of events that he laughs about now but were quite harrowing at the time. “I was in the Cobram pub waiting for the cab when the blokes at the bar made a hangman’s noose. It was for me and they weren’t happy. Down in the Gippsland league one night the publican had to lock me in the ladies lounge and threw me the late edition of the Herald newspaper as the cops rang to find out where the cab was because they couldn’t guarantee my safety. I suppose it was all in a days work!”
The most embarrassing thing that probably happened was the night Arnie Smith from Yarram gave me two live crayfish to bring home. I wrapped them in my gear for the trip home to Melbourne and got onto the tram to get home. I fell asleep and my bag was knocked over, the crayfish escaped and I got thrown off the tram,” laughed Vic. With the crayfish I hope Vic.
In a quiet moment of reflection Vic said, “the highlight of my career with out doubt is the people I’ve met, umpiring the game I love.” Supported by his wife Judy, “we are a team” Vic says proudly and his two daughters, Debbie who followed in Vic’s love of footy and umpiring by running the boundary in the YVMD league with Vic and his other daughter Karen with his four grand kids he wouldn’t change anything for the world.
Even in recent times Vic worked for the EFLUA as president and treasurer, he is still the historian and keeps records of over 3,500 umpires who have gone through the EFL. He is a life member of both the EFLUA and the AFLUA. He regularly attends our luncheons at Mornington and is constantly seen helping young goal umpires at Eastern as their assistant coach.
Congratulations Vic on an outstanding contribution to umpiring.