It was right that is was Bernie Lowden’s goal that was peppered by the rampant Bombers in the 1984 VFL Grand Final. It gave Bernie his most deserved moment in the sun as he bounced around the goals — a lifetime in thirty unforgettable minutes. That memory, for those who knew Bernie, will live long and makes his passing even sadder.
Bernard Joseph Lowden was born in Melbourne on 11 February 1936. He attended school in Deepdene before receiving a singing scholarship to Parade College where he was a chorister at St. Patrick’s Church
It was in 1955 that Bernie began a career in umpiring that would last 41 seasons. Starting as a boundary umpire in the Diamond Valley Football League, he rapidly moved to the VFL Reserve Grade. It took a hat-trick of Reserve Grade Grand Finals from 1961 before he finally gained a coveted position on the VFL Boundary Umpires list in 1964.
1966 was Bernie’s first on the VFLUA Executive Committee. He served three years while on the boundary and, when he returned as a goal umpire, he was on the Committee for another five years from 1977-1981.
As a boundary, Bernie’s umpired the Night Series Grand Final in 1967 and his only senior final in 1968. After taking time off to travel he returned to senior football as a goal umpire.
His first match made him the 163rd VFL goal umpire to go along with his Boundary Heritage No. 319. As a VFL goal umpire, finals success was swift with appointment to the 1975 Elimination Final. While Bernie was a regular finals umpire over the next nine seasons, his dream of a Grand Final came close only once when he made the 1979 Preliminary Final. It was a genuine surprise to Bernie when his appointment to the 1984 Grand Final was announced.
At his retirement in 1985 his on-field record stood at 287 matches, eleven finals and one Grand Final. He was made a Life Member of the VFLUA in 1979.
From 1986 to 1995 Bernie maintained his involvement as a goal umpire observer and brought with him a wealth of experience that he was able to communicate to running umpires. In addition to his VFL commitments, Bern also sat on the Eastern District Football League Tribunal for many years and was on the Executive Committee of the Box Hill Football Club for some years in the 1990s.
Bernie Lowden died suddenly in his sleep while in Chicago, USA on 30 June 2005, aged 69. As part of a large family and with such a large circle of friends, many will mourn him and miss his lust for life. Every person who knew him will miss him, but now he can sit with the football gods themselves.