Michael Francis Xavier Henry was born 19 October 1946 to Walter and Kathleen, one of three children. The family spent their early years in the Oakleigh area where Mike attended St Anthony’s Parish School and later Salesian College in Chadstone.
During his time at Salesian, Mike represented the school in football, athletics, tennis, table tennis and cricket. In addition to this, he took up boundary umpiring after finding his father’s ‘Old Acme Thunderer’ in a box. Walter had umpired the 1935 Caulfield Oakleigh and Districts Football League Grand Final, the year after he retired as the best and fairest player in the same competition. During this time Mike also played football for Clayton YCW Under 17’s in their premiership season.
In 1962, Mike joined the South East Suburban Football League as a field umpire and a year later was accepted to the VFL Reserve Grade list.
Mike felt he needed to become much fitter for umpiring and took on the challenge of professional foot-running whilst at the same time he co-founded and captained the Salesian Old Boys cricket team to their inaugural premiership in 1968.
It was a big year as Mike was promoted onto the VFL senior list. The following year saw appointment to his first VFL Reserve Grade match
After consistent reserves matches Mike gained his first VFL match appointment on 14 August 1971, Footscray and Fitzroy at the Western Oval, a game he ran out despite cramp.
In 1974, Mike started in the VFL and performed well umpiring 20 VFL games. He continued to perform well in 1975. He was rewarded at the end of the season with the qualifying final and ultimately 1975 VFL Reserve Grade Grand Final, the last single one umpire match at that level.
Despite continuing success and due to his heavy work commitments, Mike decided to retire at the end of 1977.
Mike’s record totalled 89 VFL (2 finals), 41 VFL Reserve Grade (3 grand finals), 71 VCFL matches (13 grand finals). An accountant by trade he kept detailed records and could note travelling 51,541 miles during his career and earned just over $11,000 for his effort.
Mike was awarded life membership of the VFLUA in 1978. He continued some connection with umpiring when he took an observing role with the Dandenong and District Junior Football League from 1978 to 1980.
Mike Henry passed away 3 July 2022.