The following year he started in the seniors and umpired the first eleven rounds before dropping back to the seconds and again finishing the year with Second-Semi and Preliminary Finals, this time in the Reserves competition.
His second game that year was perhaps the most interesting, not for what transpired on the field, but for the lead up to match. The lifting of war-time travel restrictions saw Geelong re-enter the VFL competition in 1944 and South Melbourne were their first visitors. However, the late arrival of South Melbourne’s train delayed the start of the match for more than an hour. The train did not arrive until 2.25pm and Lane’s opening bounce finally hit the deck at 3.32 pm. Phil was at the ground on time, perhaps being aware of potential problems because he had umpired two practice matches at Kardinia Park already that year. According to the Geelong Advertiser, “in the last few minutes of the match it was difficult to distinguish the players in the semi-darkness”.
Being stationed at Point Cook meant that Lane was still close to the VFL competition in 1945 and he continued umpiring that year, again starting in the seniors but later fluctuating between the VFL and Second Eighteen Competitions before dropping out in mid-July, possibly due to RAAF commitments. He did not grace the seniors for about twelve months, but after leaving the forces he rejoined the VFL and by the end of 1946 he had accumulated 26 VFL senior matches. His last senior game featured Fitzroy, who whipped the Bloods at the Lake Oval.
Despite not umpiring senior football, Phil, now 36, worked hard for the next two years and success was found in perhaps his most prestigious appointment – the 1947 VFL Second Eighteens Grand Final. Phil retired from the VFL list at the conclusion of the 1948 season.
Maintaining his connection with both Fitzroy and its football club, Phil was a regular at Past Players functions and was also a Life Member of the Fitzroy Bowling and Sports Club. In recent years he was able to clearly recall events from his time in umpiring and football, no mean effort considering it was almost sixty ago.
Phil Lane, VFL player, VFL umpire, passed away on 8 August 2006, aged 96. His survived by a large and loving family.