Neil Tooth

Neil Tooth who ran the boundary with the Victorian Football League for three seasons passed away recently at Meningie Hospital, S.A. after a long illness.

Born on 26 May 1927 Neil grew up in and around Greensborough. At age 22 he joined the VFL Second Eighteens Umpires Association as a boundary umpire. In 1951, his second season, he was appointed to the Second Eighteen First Semi-final, Geelong v. Footscray. The following year he officiated at the Carlton v. Essendon Second Eighteen Preliminary Final. Despite missing the grand final, when the VFL required three new boundary umpires for 1953 Neil was selected for the last promotion spot joining Ivan Bates and Ken Innes on the senior list.

Neil made his VFL debut in round 1, 1953 when St.Kilda were defeated at the Junction Oval by North Melbourne. It earned him Heritage Number 300.

Between 1953 and 1955 Neil umpired 41 VFL matches (and 2 VCFL finals) and had a great seat for players such as John Coleman, Bill Hutchinson and Roy Wright. At the same time many wet grounds and rounds often made boundary umping a slogging affair. On the other hand two of the VFLs lowest ever scoring years since the mid-1920s were 1953 and 1955 which meant fewer runs up the middle after goals.

Perhaps his most notable appointment was the 1954 Fitzroy-Collingwood clash. Last and first respectively on the ladder at the time, Fitzroy got up in a stunning victory. It was later revealed a group of Fitzroy players and supporters, who were offered a series of side bets at 10/1, backed Fitzroy and collected around ₤2,000.

Retiring at the end of the 1955 season Neil moved to South Australia where he resided for the rest of his life. He passed away on 13 October 2012.

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