Noel Egan was one of the few VFA umpires to successfully transfer to the VFL and carve out a career over an extended period. While the vast majority of those games were in the country he tasted much success in the city reaching VFL senior level in the first three years after moving leagues.
Bursting onto the VFL scene in 1949, aged only 23, Noel umpired in the Second Eighteen competition for three weeks and was impressive enough to be promoted to senior VFL football in Round 4. He debuted at the Lake Oval on 7 May earning Heritage Number 206 when South Melbourne defeated Melbourne. After umpiring two more VFL matches that year he was appointed to the VCFL for the remainder of the season and finished by officiating in six finals including the Hume and Mount Gambier grand finals. That first year was a template for an extensive career that continued for a further 16 seasons.
Born in 1925 Noel played football before a series of collar bone fractures forced him to give up playing. He took to umpiring with the VFA Seconds competition in 1944 at 18 years of age. Promoted to the VFA seniors in 1947 he debuted in July that year and was emergency for the seconds first semi-final.
The following season he umpired mostly in the seniors including an interesting day at Prahran. Coburg were the visitors and Prahran were undefeated to that stage. In an upset Prahran were roundly defeated and Egan was escorted from the field through a surging mob by baton-wielding police. Three hundred spectators milled around the umpires door for more than half an hour.
Egan transferred to the VFL in 1949 with Bob Merrington. Merrington resigned mid-way through 1950 and returned to the VFA but Egan stayed.
After the initial success of the first season Noel found it difficult to earn consistent senior appointments. Five matches in early 1950 and two more in 1951 were what he would total. In those years the bulk of his other appointments were in the second eighteens but the chance to maintain a regular senior spot was gone. From 1952 to 1964 Noel umpired extensively in the country and Tasmania and built a career as one of the best. His success is illustrated by his appointment to 33 VCFL grand finals in 26 competitions, 6 Tasmanian state championship and 9 VCFL championship matches.
In all Noel umpired 361 matches (10 VFL, 29 VFL Second Eighteen, 322 VCFL) in 16 seasons. Off the field Noel also served two seasons on the VFLUA’s executive committee. He was awarded life membership in 1959.
Noel Egan passed away on 1 July 2014.