Leslie Edward Johnson, otherwise known as Edward or Ted depending which table you are looking at in the 2014 AFLUA year book announced his retirement from active duty last night in front of the AFL umpiring family and received a standing ovation.

Ted, whose age is a closely guarded secret started umpiring 1956 as a boundary umpire in the VFL second 18’s, four years later he was promoted to the VFL reserve grade panel where he officiated for another six years, five of those as a boundary and one as a field umpire.  Ted told the assembled group, “if McInerney could do it anyone could.”  Ted then turned his attention to goal umpiring and it was there that he truly made his mark.

Ted commenced goal umpiring on the VFL reserve grade panel in 1967 until he was promoted to the VFL senior panel in 1971 where he stayed until his retirement in 1986.  In a career that spanned 16 years he umpired 266 games including 11 finals and the 1982 grand final.  Ted could not remember much of that game unfortunately and he continually returned to discussing the female streaker who ran onto the ground and halted play for a few minutes in the second quarter.

Ted’s stats speak for themselves.  He still stands 11th all time on the games ladder for VFL/AFL goal umpires.  

L.E. Johnson became a life member of the association in 1981.  He was inducted into the AFLUA hall of fame in 2010 as L.E.Johnson but the 1982 grand final was umpired by E.Johnson?

The year after his on-field retirement Ted turned his hand to training where he has spent the past 29 years looking after the wellbeing of all running umpires. More than 20 of those years were as head trainer.  “Ted defined the word junket,” exclaimed Justin Schmitt amid howls of laughter from the group.  “Ted had to travel Australia in his role as head trainer checking to ensure the training standards across Australia were up to scratch.”  Fellow senior umpire Brett Rosebury recounted the time David Howlett was hit in the head by a stray golf ball at a pre-season camp only to have Ted attend to him with the dirtiest golf rag in his bag.  “Not sure that was the way to treat an open head wound,” said Brett.

Ted Johnson received a Lifetime achievement award for services to umpiring in 1995.  

Ted probably knew his time was up last year when Troy Pannell was felled in a collision with a player and despite knowing he wasn’t to go onto the ground his instincts took over and out he charged.  Club trainers and doctors have that role now but Ted needed to help.  He got a kick in the pants but wore his admonishment with pride. 

Ted is a supporter of the X men where he works with another old timer, Ron Bailey to get around our life members and keeps them up with the news from the AFLUA.  Ted also volunteers in our office and is in every few weeks to keep our data base up to date and drink coffee with anyone who will have a chat with him.

A teary Ted got to his feet to thank everyone he had met and worked with in the AFL family over his long journey.  He was especially appreciative of everyone who had looked out for him since his wife, Maureen passed away just over 2 years ago.  Ted plans to spend much more time with his four sons and eight grand children, but not until after this year’s grand final where he has been appointed for his last game in a farewell gesture by the AFLUD.  

The umpires banded together and bought a travel voucher for Ted as a parting gift so he can travel to Japan to see one of his son’s who has worked overseas for many years now.  Some even argued they put in more money simply to get rid of him.

What can we say about a man who has dedicated his life to pursue his dreams of umpiring a grand final and then returns to give much more back to make sure others can have the same opportunity of reaching their ultimate dreams other than to say, we would be poorer placed for not having had Teddy, Ted, Edward or Leslie around.

Congratulations Ted you have done it all.

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