My next “where are they now” is a boundary umpire who was not happy in applying 110% into everything that he took on, stating that “if it’s not worth doing well then don’t take the bloody thing on in the first place”.
Peter Raymond Saultry, Heritage Boundary Umpire No. 320 was born at home in Ross Street, Port Melbourne on the 9thof July 1939. The youngest of six siblings, Peter had 4 brothers Edmund, Keith, George, Robert and a sister Beverley. Born to Richard and Kathleen Saultry, Peter’s father fought in World War 1 and then just after Peter was born left to fight in World War 2. Richard commonly known as “Dick” upon his return from the War failed to cope with the stress of the War and took off to Queensland, leaving Peter’s mother Kathleen to raise six children on her own.
In 1944 Peter attended the Graham Street Primary School, Port Melbourne and in 1950 moved on to South Melbourne Technical School. Upon graduating, he started work with P.M.Wilson as a sixteen year old at the Melbourne Harbour Trust Building, a career which spanned 40 years before he started his own business.
It was during this time that Peter decided to play football with the Prahran Under 19’s in the Victorian Football Association.
In 1958, Peter met a young lady who happened to work in the same building as he did. He and Billie married soon thereafter and today, after 57 years of married life together, they live in Rosanna having raised four children – Leanne, Paul, Lisa and Sarah. They also have seven grand-children.
Towards the end of 1959, Peter’s uncle Ted O’Brien introduced Peter to Bernie Hogan, a former VFL umpire who conversed with him about umpiring. At the age of 20 years, Peter joined the VFL Reserve Grade as a boundary umpire. It was through umpiring that Peter became involved in professional foot running using the running to get fit for his boundary umpiring. He formed a good relationship with Bill Sutton and the pair trained at Port Melbourne together.
In 1964 during his fifth year on the list, Peter was appointed to the Reserve Grade Grand Final where he partnered with Graham Baker. An all-in brawl erupted and Peter reported the instigator Hugh Routley from Geelong, who received a 12-week suspension for his actions. Peter was the only umpire to make a report. To finish off the year, “Saults” as he was now known, was elevated onto the Senior List in 1965.
With his passion for foot running, Peter now decided to seek some financial reward for his running. He trained for the Wangaratta Gift and was given a mark of 4.5 yards, a race he won easily.
Peter was partnered with John McNiff for his first game between Geelong v Footscray. An all-in brawl broke out with the field umpire having made 8 reports. Peter was called before the Umpires’ Board for reporting Ted Whitten, however he was not suspended due to his lack of senior experience. Peter had defended himself by saying Ted Whitten did not strike any player. A life-long relationship was formed with Mr Football as he escaped penalty.
After the season Peter was invited back to defend his Wangaratta Gift but unfortunately broke down and pulled out of the event. He had been backed to win the gift.
1965 was a good year for Peter in professional foot running with his new trainer Richard Kidd, a former VFL boundary umpire. With Richard’s help Peter won the Portland Gift 120 yards off 4.15 and to top it off, as the back-marker, won the 440 yards event.
On the football side of things, Peter’s most embarrassing moment came when officiating at South Melbourne. During the previous week, all umpires were told to be aware of coaches leaving the bench and approaching the boundary line, and to report such incidents. North Melbourne Coach Ron Barassi had been warned to sit down, and on the third occasion was reported by Peter as per the given instructions.
At the after-match entertainment, Barassi approached the umpires calling them white maggots. The umpires questioned their board man if they should stay around, but were told to stay put, which made for a very unpleasant evening. On a brighter note, Peter went on to umpire the second semi-final and a night final.
Post season Peter won the Wangaratta Gift off 6.5 yards. He was then asked by the Professional Foot Running League to participate in an invitation event where Rick Dunbar, who was off Scratch, was trying to break the world record for 120 yards. Peter, off 3.1/4, won the race and collected the cheque shattering Rick’s aspirations of a world record.
In 1967, Peter was appointed with partner Arthur Cook to the Interstate game between Victoria and Western Australia. As Peter’s mark in foot running lessened, he decided to help out two umpires in Bill Hedger and Barry Carmichael in their efforts to win at Stawell. Bill Hedger won the 2-mile event off a good mark.
Over the next few years (’69,’70,’71) in umpiring, Peter received a Day semi-final and the night Grand Final, but it wasn’t until 1973 that Peter’s achieved the highlight of his career when he was appointed to a qualifying Final and then the VFL Grand Final Richmond d. Carlton, partnered by Geoff Willcox.
In 1975, Peter was awarded Life Membership of the V.F.L.U.A. After 13 years on the list, Peter decided that 1977 would be his last year. He was appointed to the Qualifying Final and was emergency for the Grand Final which happened to be the drawn Grand Final between North Melbourne and Collingwood. The following week the board saw fit to appoint Peter to a curtain raiser game before the replay, which turned out to be his last appointment. Peter’s career totalled 231 appointments.
Told by the league that they wanted him to continue in 1978, Peter, in his resignation letter, stated that he was getting too old for the pace of the game. Not wanting Peter to leave with his valuable experience, the VFL appointed Peter as Boundary Umpires Coach for the next 4 years.
At the end of the 1981 season Peter decided to call it quits and take a step back from Umpiring. During the winter months he was the fitness adviser at Camberwell Football Club. Over the off season, Peter and his wife Billie decided to travel and trips to Hong Kong, Singapore, Boat cruises to New Zealand and the Pacific Island took up most of their time.
A keen Port Melbourne supporter, Peter transferred to Port Melbourne Football Club in 1976 as fitness advisor. During the next five years, Port appeared in five grand finals and were premiers in each of them.
In 1992 Peter was enticed to stand for President to help get Port Melbourne back on it’s feet. It has been recorded that the success of the club has not only been attributable to the Club’s on-field achievements but also the hard work done by the likes of Norm Goss Senior, Jack “Darky” McFarlane and Peter Saultry in their roles as officials and administrators of the club. Under their leadership the club enjoyed it’s most successful era, both on the field and financially.
Peter was President in 2011 when perhaps the Port Melbourne team deserved to be recognized as the BEST Port Melbourne team in history – undefeated and winning the Premiership as a stand-alone team in a competition that favours aligned clubs. Peter is especially proud of his achievement in winning the support of TEAC and made a special presentation to their Managing Director in Mr Gavin Muir for their financial support. At the end of the 2011 season Peter resigned as President to spend more time with his family and part-time business. Peter was the longest servicing President in the club’s history and improved their financial position from $200,000 in the red to asset holdings of $2 million.
Peter’s eldest Brother Ted was appointed ground announcer at Port Melbourne. Ted once umpired on our Senior list but due to injury called it quits as a VFL Umpire.
Peter’s favourite umpire was Jeff Crouch who he described as a real quality person and someone who he umpired many games with.
As Charlie Chrimes would always say, Once you reach 70, you are in God’s waiting room”. Well done Peter on a GREAT Career.
No. of games ………………………. 208
VFL Finals …………………………… 12
VFL GRAND FINAL (1973)………… 1
Interstate Games …………………… 1
VFL Night Games (4 finals) ……… 6
Night Grand Finals (Sth Melb)…….. 3
TOTAL APPOINTMENTS …………………. 231
Article written by: AFLUA Life Member, Graeme ‘Wizzer’ Fellows