Bill Pantland

Bill Pantland umpired 250 country and ten VFL Reserve Grade matches in a career that spanned fifteen seasons on the senior list of umpires.

William Albert Pantland was born in Hobart, Tasmania on 3 November 1917 and grew up there until his family moved to Footscray when he was 10 years old. He played football for Victor Socials in Footscray District League B-Grade and their 1938 premiership was a highlight of his playing days. Table tennis was another interest and, later in life he proved adept at lawn bowls, becoming Club Champion in singles of West Coburg Bowls Club for 1986.

Beginning umpiring in 1946 with the VFL Reserve Grade, Bill showed immediate promise and after only one year was promoted to the senior list. He was one of thirty-two who came on that year as the VFL was taking on more and more country leagues after the Second World War. Of those who came up in 1947 only four remained after Bill retired at the end of the 1961 season, testimony to his umpiring ability and enjoyment of football. He became a Life Member of the VFLUA in 1957.

His best year was probably 1954. Six of his ten Reserve Grade matches came in that year, including Melbourne versus South Melbourne on the M.C.G. In addition, he finished the year with the Mornington Peninsula Football League Preliminary Final, the Benalla League First-Semi Final and the Sunraysia Football League Grand Final between Irymple and Mildura.

Retirement from the VFL did not mean the end of his connection with the whistle – or the flags. Bill umpired with Northern District Football League as a field umpire and Metropolitan Football League as a goal umpire. He was Chairman of NDFL Umpires Association and President of MFL Umpires Association.

A quiet, self effacing man, Bill was so private that few people were unaware he became an amputee in 1998. He will be remembered for his friendliness and generosity.

Bill passed away on 7 June 2006.