It took Frank 18 years of dedicated service to AFL umpiring to be awarded an honorary life membership and it took the association another five months to track him down and find a suitable place to present it to him.
Frank has been in the wars since he retired as the AFLUD property steward at the end of the 2013. More recently he has been recovering from a leg amputation in the Royal Melbourne Hospital Rehabilitation Unit in Parkville.
Frank became an AFL trainer in 1995 and for the next 18 years serviced the needs of our Melbourne based umpires. When I first came into contact with Frank in 2003 he would drive from his home in Altona via AFL House in Docklands to pick up anything the umpiring department needed him to take, then to Alsco in Yarraville to collect the linen and don’t forget he had to buy the lollies and the ice. Frank’s destination was Monash University in Mulgrave, the training headquarters for our Melbourne based field umpires. Frank would leave home straight after lunch and not be seen again by his wife Shirley until well after 9pm at night.
As the property steward he was ruthless. Heaven help any umpire who took a ball out for bouncing practice and didn’t return it. If you didn’t contribute to the lolly fund you had no hope of getting a lolly or two after training that’s for sure!
Frank ran the raffles on mother’s day, easter and father’s day to raise funds to buy lollies and provided all the linen to each trainer for their match day requirements. The amount of lost property he collected from the change rooms each night defied logic. Some would often leave business shoes, at times even their suits as they ran out the door to go home. Others would leave wallets and phones.
Frank has a strong history as an umpire, and has always been an “association man.”
Frank was a boundary umpire with the Spotswood footy club from 1949 until 1953, before joining the VFL Reserve Grade Umpires in 1954. He was a boundary, field and goal umpire in his time on that list before retiring in 1976. He became a life member of the VFL Reserve Grade Umpires Association in 1962. He was president of that group in 1962 and secretary from 1966 to 1971. He was actually invited to join the VFL senior list as a field umpire in 1965 but couldn’t accept the invitation because he could not get the time off work to get to training.
He joined the Western Suburbs Umpires Association in 1977 and was secretary for 2 years of that group.
Frank spent 16 years as a trainer with the Western Bulldogs (formerly the Footscray Football Club) and is also a life member of that club.
Frank’s commitment and dedication to all umpires, coaches, trainers and administrators over 18 years makes him an excellent candidate for Honorary Life Membership of the AFLUA. Congratulations Frank.
Photo: Newly inducted Life Member Frank Knight, with current and former VFL/AFL umpires