At a time when the VFL provided little in the way of ancillary services to its umpires, honorary VFL Umpires’ Association physiotherapist Bruce Whitehead looked after the aches and niggles that invariably occurred during seasons and careers of the umpires of the day.
Those days stretched from 1958 to 1987 and resulted in Bruce becoming one of the few non-umpires awarded honorary life membership in 1967.
Bruce qualified with a Diploma of Physiotherapy in 1957 and the following year offered his services to the umpires in an honorary capacity. He immediately became part of the umpiring family as Secretary, Jack Gray, noted in the 1958 annual report, “Bruce is a very likeable chap, and will be a great asset to this association. It was pleasing to see Bruce, together with our other honorary officers at several of our functions during the year”.
Others recall his regular table-chat about fishing while plying their injured limbs.
According to his wife Dorothy, Bruce loved his time helping umpires with their various injuries during a time when such services were not made available to umpires by the VFL.