Listing office bearers of the VFLRGUA from 1970-1983, the board was hung in the Light Car Club of Australia rooms in Queens Road, Melbourne , a venue much frequented by members of the VFLRGUA. In fact for the purchase of five annual memberships all the 200 plus Reserve Grade umpires had access to the club’s facilities, primarily the bar. This was a privilege of which much advantage was taken by the umps and appreciated by the club.
As the only board or piece of memorabilia with no relation to the club itself that was hung it was an anomaly.
The umpires’ association was wound up in 1983 following the amalgamation of the Reserve Grade and senior VFL lists but the board remained in the possession of the LCCA and continued to hang near the bar. Financial losses saw the club wind up in 1994. With the venue closed the honour board was last known to have been relocated to the basement storage area of a used car lot on Dandenong Road ,Oakleigh, at about that time.
Over time investigations with the used car proprietors were unrevealing and the board was considered lost and likely destroyed.
Enter Rampaging Roy Slaven and H.G. Nelson, or more particularly a correspondent to their most recent broadcast series, Bludging on the blindside.
In an August weekly e-mail segment relating to umpire controversy, a member of the public wrote in noting the existence of a fine umpires’ honour board, and questioning why it stopped in 1983. Any question it was the right board was laid to rest as HG read out the familiar names of G. Hunt, A. Grant and G. Dempster, the last three VFLRGUA presidents. Unfortunately the AFLUA historian was listening to an archived edition otherwise a speedy reply could have been forwarded explaining the history of the association.
Nevertheless the most important information was the location of the board.
Still not quite believing it, a visit to the Merri Creek Tavern resulted in success.
The board was mounted next to the bar in what appeared to be pristine condition. Given its history and the reputation of the Reserve Grade drinkers back in the day it is a most appropriate spot.
So how where had it been and how did it get there?
Talking with the owners of the tavern the only light they can shed is that they were looking for some honour boards to fit with the mood they were wanting to set. They purchesed the board on e-bay but there was no provenance nor could they recall the sellers. In short, its travels over nearly three decades are still unknown but the mystery of its location is solved.
To visit a piece of genuine umpiring history make your way to Merri Creek Tavern, 111 High Street, Northcote, and raise a glass to the Reserve Grade.
To view more office holders see Office bearers (any missing information gratefully received).
Article by David Flegg AM