<h2>Peter ‘Alec’ Nicholson</h2>
Alec Nicholson punctuated his VFL career with a stint in the Wimmera and was one of a handful of umpires of his era to come straight onto the senior list.
Peter Alexander Nicholson was born on 26 November 1928 in Stawell, near the Victorian town of Great Western where he grew up and played football for the local side in the Southern Wimmera FL. He also played cricket and was active in professional athletics.
Following a move to Melbourne he began umpiring with the Victorian Football Association in 1955 and after only one season was accepted on the the VFL senior list. The 1956 season proved satisfactory but a return home to the Wimmera in 1957-58 meant a leave of absence from the VFL. During that time he umpired with the Wimmera District umpires and once back in the city he picked up with the VFL.
It was five years before he umpired his first finals and it was not until his final season that he officiated in his first senior VCFL final. His final match was to be the 1965 Benalla-Tungamah Preliminary Final but the match resulted in a draw and Alec went back the following to umpire the replay.
In eight VFL senior list seasons Alec umpired 130 VCFL matches including 6 finals.
Alec Nicholson passed away in Bairnsdale on 1 July 2016.
Umpiring with the VFL turned out to be just one part of a sporting and business career that covered playing, coaching and administering Australian football, athletics, cricket, tennis as well as owning Sydney nightspots.
Born Raymond Henry Catherall in Melbourne on 6 October 1927 he grew up in Buninyong and Ballarat before returning to Melbourne. He played senior football with Brunswick in the VFA until 1949. That year was also significant for his running as he was secretary of the Melbourne Harriers Club as well as being champion over five and seven miles.
In 1950 Ray married Winifred Cunningham (with Australian Test player and friend Neil Harvey as groomsman) and also took up umpiring with the VFL Second Eighteens. He was promoted to the VFL senior list in 1953. The years 1955-58 were the highlights of the eight seasons he spent with the VFL. He debuted in the Second Eighteens in 1955 and ultimately umpired 11 seconds matches. In the country he umpired VCFL preliminary finals in the Port Fairy District (1955) and Mallee (1956) leagues and the 1956 reserves second semi-finals in the Ovens and Murray and Murray Football leagues.
At the end of his eight year VFL career he had totaled 11 second eighteen, 114 VCFL, 5 Metropolitan and 1 Tasmanian matches.
Ray umpired with the VFA from 1961-63 before hanging up the whistle and moving on to the next stages of his sporting endeavours.
His first move into coaching was not an overwhelming success. Taking charge of Old Hailebury for the 1964 season they year was best remembered for the unusual scenario of Haileyburians having to play Hampton Rovers after the finals series in a catch up game to see if the Hailebury would be relegated or not. They survived but Ray did not, losing his job to B.A.R. Clarke he moved to Sydney in 1966 to to take up a partnership in two of Sydney’s leading night spots – Mother’s Cellar and Moby Dicks restaurants at Kings Cross.
Unable to remain out of football he originally applied for the NSW Umpires’Association coaching position but ended up taking the coaching job at Sydney Naval where he gained some notoriety by playing ‘soothing’ music to his players in the change rooms at half-time breaks. Again he lasted only one season at the club moving to coach Sydney University the following year and yet another one-year tenure.
These coaching stints lead to a interest in coaching generally and a change of sporting interests led to Catherall being appointed coach of the Canadian national cricket team in the 1980s and later junior Coach and tactical/skills coach at Glenorchy in Tasmania.
Ray Catherall passed away in Tasmania on 8 August 2014
Bryan Grant, who passed away 13 April 2016, was a member of a prominent umpiring family who all tasted some success at the highest level. His father Norman was a VFL grand final goal umpire and his younger brother Roly field umpired senior VFL football in the 1960s. Bryan found his own way to success and the 1967 VFL Grand Final was in the best family tradition.
Born in Melbourne on 9 June 1932 Bryan joined the VFL Second eighteens as a goal umpire in 1959. Following appointment to the 1962 VFL Reserve Grade and 1963 VFL U19 Grand Finals he was promoted to the VFL senior list.
His first VFL match was at Glenferrie Oval on Anzac Day 1964 and an inaccurate Hawthorn (9.20) kept both goalies on their toes. Breaking through to the finals panel for the first time with the 1966 Second Semi-final he followed that with the interstate clash between Victoria and South Australia in 1967.
The 1967 VFL Grand Final was one the best for years over four quarters. In a rollicking last quarter the lead changed four times and four times scores were level. Richmond were kicking to Grant’s city end and the pressure was intense with a series of quick snaps and close on-line decisions all handled coolly including Kevin Bartlett’s ultimate game winner on the run which set the crow to a new level of frenzy sealing the Tigers’ first premiership since 1942.
Bryan completed his VFL career following the 1969 night series semi-final and his final career totals stood at 97 VFL matches including 4 finals. He passed away on 13 April 2016.