Peter McLinden passed away on 5 January 2009. His contribution to football encompassed roles as player, umpire, coach and administrator over four decades.
Peter John McLinden was born in Inglewood on 10 October 1927. He played football with Minimay Football Club in the Goroke and District Football League winning a premiership in 1950. Following his playing days Peter began umpiring with the Wangaratta and District Umpires Association in 1952. Moving to Melbourne in 1955 he joined Essendon District umpires and the following year umpired in the VFL Second Eighteens Umpires Association. It was a good time to perform well as the VFL Senior List took thirty-two new field umpires in 1957 and Peter was one of them.
Over the next ten seasons Peter umpired 171 VCFL Senior matches including six senior finals. His solitary grand final was the 1964 Tyrrell League Reserves between Manangatang and Sea Lake at Sea Lake.
Retiring at the end of 1966 Peter received his VFLUA Life Membership for ten-years service at the 1967 AGM. One of the true characters of his era Peter was known as ‘The Bard’ for his efforts as a raconteur generally and his poetry in particular. His Life Membership acceptance speech was presented in verse and had the entire AGM in fits of laughter. The same was true of passengers on the train to Perth for the VFLUA trip in 1969 when the following members performed a play written by Peter.
Judge: Peter McLinden; Prosecutor: Peter Matheson; Girl: Frank Gagliardi; Man: Ron Warwick; Queer: Jeff Crouch.
Ray Sleeth remembers, “The rendition of the poem ‘Mulga Bill’ was always a crowd pleaser over a beer or two. He loved a bet on the horses and was successful too. And his cheeky smile along with the question, “Do you think we should have a cold one?”
‘The Bards’ commitment to football continued as an umpire at Doncaster and District Junior Football League, juniors coach at Vermont Football Club, Under 19s coach for Beverly Hills Football Club in the VAFA and president of Vermont in 1981-82.
Well respected by his contemporaries Peter will be remembered as a solid umpire, good friend and football contributor.