Les Whyte

Leslie Whyte is the longest serving member of the VFLUA having been a member for 36 consecutive seasons between 1910 and 1945.

He began with the VFL as a field umpire and spent the first four years traveling the through Victoria and umpiring in all the country competitions serviced by the VFL. In round two 1914 Whyte got his chance in the VFL when he was appointed to the Carlton versus St.Kilda match at Princes Park.

In a massive upset the Blues went down and, whether it was nerves or just a bad day, Whyte’s performance was roundly criticized by both sides, the Umpire and Permit Committee and the press. However, it was the mob of 2000 ruffians that mobbed the umpires after the match that left the biggest impression. Whyte was knocked down and assaulted and was only saved by the actions of boundary umpire Syd Johnston who fought off several of the mob before the police arrived. As a result, Whyte lost his job as a clerk and was never to field umpire another VFL match. He returned to the country where he continued his career for sixteen seasons before transferring to the goals in 1930.

His debut with the flags was in round one at the Corio Oval when Geelong destroyed North Melbourne by 102 points. There was no mob and Whyte’s second chance was off to a successful start.

In the next three seasons he built experience and at the end of 1933 was appointed to his first VFL final, the exciting Second Semi where Richmond seemed to have the match won after leading by six goals at half-time. However, in a steamrolling finish, South Melbourne kicked eight goals to one at Whyte’s end in the final term to take an unlikely victory.

The excitement of this match would have to last sometime as it was another four seasons before his next final. From 1938-41 Whyte was appointed to one final per season but in 1942 came the breakthrough. Whyte secured the Grand Final appointment that season. It had been a remarkable year and Whyte’s highlight other than the Grand Final was being the umpire at Punt Road for the VFL aggregate score record when Richmond (196) defeated Melbourne (117). The match was also noted for being the final match of war hero Squadron Leader Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott who would be killed in action the following year. Further Grand Finals in 1944 and 1945 enhanced Whyte’s reputation as an excellent goal umpire. He retired after the 1945 Grand Final with a total of 214 VFL matches to his name.

Whyte was elected President of the VFLUA in 1942 and a Life Member in 1943.