Bill Quinn’s induction as an AFLUA Grand Final Legend in 2006 recognised his achievement of running the boundary in the 1946, 1947, 1949 and 1950 VFL Grand Finals. It was most remarkable because these were the only four years that Bill ran as a boundary umpire with the VFL.
Born William Henry Quinn in 1923, Bill took up boundary umpiring as part of his athletic training. Appointed to the VFL Senior list in 1946 he was awarded Heritage Number 281 when he umpired Melbourne versus Geelong at Punt Road in the opening round and his success was immediate. His sixteenth game was the 1946 Grand Final and what a sensational match it was, including being hard work for Bill and fellow boundary George Smith.
A running goal to Melbourne’s Dullard six seconds after the first bounce heralded a fifteen-goal first quarter – Essendon 7.2 Melbourne 8.3. Defences tightened in the second quarter but the avalanche continued as Essendon poured on eleven goals to one in the third to effectively finish the contest and 35 goal match.
One notable occurrence from his second season, other than the 1947 Grand Final, was in the Geelong versus Melbourne match at Kardinia Park. That day the behind post proved insecure and was constantly falling over. A spectator was employed to hold it up for the duration of the match and thus Bill (and partner George Harrison) shared the behind post with him as the game progressed.
On the request of the then VFL Umpires’ Appointment Board Bill took on the field in 1948. During the year he umpired six VCFL matches and would have done more field umpiring but was nabbed playing fotball in a mid-week workers competition, not allowed by the umpiring powers, and suspended for the remainder of the year. The following year he returned to the boundary.
Picking up where he left off he umpired the next two VFL Grand Finals. At the end of the 1950 season he retired from the VFL having umpired 61 VFL matches and four Grand Finals in four seasons. In 1947 he was a member of the VFLUA Social Committee.
Following his umpiring career Bill played football with North Melbourne Reserves (1951), Box Hill (1952), was captain-coach of Box Hill Reserves (1953) and captain-coach of East Geelong (1954).
He returned to umpiring and ran the field with VAFA 1955 to 1962 and then with NSW AFL 1964-65 and was NSW AFL Umpires Adviser 1966. It was during his time at the amateurs that was appointed to run the boundary in the Olympic Games Exhibition Match in 1956.
He then coached Eastern Suburbs in the NSW AFL in 1969 and held a variety of positions with that club until 1986, including President in their premiership year in 1984.
Always proud of his VFLUA connection Bill was a regular and enthusiastic attendee at the Past Grand Final Umpires Dinner and always ready to regale others about football in his day, never about himself. He also took up Associate membership of the AFLUA from 2006-2010. This qualified him for Life Membership which was duly awarded at this year’s Annual General Meeting.
One of the great servants of Australian football in a wide range of capacities Bill passed away on 12 April 2011 at the Gold Coast and will be sadly missed.