Doug Langham

The Man in White magazine first appeared in August 1969, the brainchild of country field umpire Doug Langham. The ‘pilot’ edition was a two-page foolscap format, and a second issue was published a week later in the same format. The masthead was the official VFLUA logo.

From such a simple beginning Man in White grew into the official organ of the VFLUA and its descendant still enters publication triennially under the auspices of the Victorian Football Umpires Association. A great tribute to the man who began and continued a tradition and who recently passed away, aged 73.

Douglas Norman Langham was born in Moreland on 19 February 1937 and grew up there an in various Wimmera towns, many of which he would visit as an umpire years later.

Returning to Melbourne he played Colts and Under 19s football for Hawthorn and progressed to Camberwell in the VFA. After finishing playing Doug took up umpiring with the East Suburban Protestant Churches Football Association in 1962. He joined the VFL Reserve Grade Umpires in 1964 and the following season was promoted to the VFL Senior List.

Unlike many, his first appointment was in the metropolitan area, Preston Wanderers versus Nortchote Park but very soon he was on the usual circuit through the country. Over the next nine seasons Doug amassed 141 country matches including his only senior final – the Mid-Gippsland Preliminary in 1972.

While he was a country field umpire Doug was inspired to create the Man in White. He was the writer, editor, photographer and publisher of the magazine at the beginning. After the two late-1969 editions those for 1970 were enlarged to eight or twelve pages. Doug recruited anonymous scribes at each training track, who wrote their articles under noms de plume such as Jockstrap, Sherry Faulkner, Stepping Stone, C’noath and the Phantom Stirrer. Each issue featured social news, pen-pics, and plenty of high quality photographs.

Other than the contributions of the scribes, all of the work was done by Doug and his wife, Dawn. The magazine quickly took on cult status and became a most popular form of communication and entertainment. By 1973 the workload had increased to the degree that it required a sub-editor, Merv Hindson. That year Doug also served on the Executive Committee.

Doug was also very active in the social events and other activities of the Caulfield Training Track group. He was President for a number of years.

For his publishing work Langham was awarded VFLUA Honorary Life Membership in 1972 and he remained the editor until 1974. It was at this stage that he left field umpiring and returned to the VFL Reserve Grade to continue umpring, this time in the goals.

Almost immediatley successful the umpired the 1975 and 1976 Reserve Grade Grand Finals and so returned to the senior list in 1977.

On 2 April Langham was awarded Heritage No. 169 when he umpired his first VFL match at the Junction Oval. He and partner Gerald Gaffney were busy given that it was a 38-goal, 38-behinds match resulting in a win for the Lions over the Tigers.

The goal umpiring success continued with seventeen matches and the Qualifying Final that year and in 1978 another seventeen home and away and the Second Semi-Final. The Hawthorn-North Melbourne semi-final was Doug’s last, leaving his total at forty VFL matches in two seasons.

After retiring from the field Doug continued to contribute to umpiring as a Board Member of the Dandenong and District Junior Football League from 1980-1984 and Assistant Advisor at the South East Suburban Football League from 1985-1989. During this period he was also following the umpiring career of his son, Craig, who was a field with the VFL Senior List. They had umpired together on the VFL Reserve Grade in 1976 when Craig was a boundary umpire.

Doug passed away on 26 June 2010 after a battle with cancer.

Vale Doug Langham “The Man in White”.