When the VFLUA ventured to New Zealand in November 1963 on its first overseas end of season trip the members were led by 1963 VFLUA President Norm Attwood. It was the successful culmination of a busy year in office. The itinerary was a cruise via Sydney to Auckland, various land excursions and a return flight home to Melbourne. Impeccably organised the umpires were also a hit at dinner on board the Sitmar Line ship Fairsky in their association attire. All in all a memorable trip and an indicator of Norm’s ability to get things done, a trait that would later serve him well in the commonwealth public service.
Norman James Attwood was born in Preston on 17 March 1929. As a young sportsman he played underage football with Rivoli in the Preston District JFA, was captain for two seasons and runner-up in the U18 best and fairest. Later he turned to athletics as a professional runner.
In 1952 he joined the VFL Second Eighteens as a field umpire and was promoted to the senior list in 1955. An 11-year career around Victoria, NSW, Tasmania and South Australia followed. When it was complete he had officiated in 18 second eighteens, 186 VCFL, 3 Metropolitan, 7 Tasmanian matches. Of those matches 36 were VCFL finals and 7 of those were grand finals.
Alongside that outstanding effort on the field Norm was also a heavy contributor to VFLUA affairs. Beginning as assistant secretary in 1960 he was elected junior vice-president in 1961 and progressed to the presidency in 1963 where he led the New Zealand trip. Made a 10-year life member in 1965 his executive service was further recognised with a Lifetime Achievement Award that same year. In his presidential year Norm was also a member of the 1963 sub-committee charged with organising an appeal in support of Frank Schwab. The funds raised Frank and his family through a very tough time following a brain hemorrhage. It was one of the most successful such appeals in association history.
When he retired Norm’s service the both the VFLUA, umpiring and football continued. After a year as a Reserve Grade Umpires Board Observer (1966) he was an original trustee member of the VFLUA Provident Fund (Umpires) from its inception in 1967 to 1971. At this point his employment took him to the ACT where he was chairman ACTAFL Umpires Appointment Board from 1971-74 and later an ACTAFL Tribunal Member from 1996-2000. As a commonwealth public servant, mainly as Deputy Secretary of Defence 1976-1984, he was awarded an Officer of Order of Australia.
Norm Attwood gave extensively of his time and organisational efforts to umpiring and made a difference with them. He passed away in Brisbane on 19 October 2017, aged 88.