Ray Schwensen

schwensen-ray1Once Ray Schwensen began umpiring he always regretted he did not take it up sooner.

Ray was born William Ignatius Xavier Schwensen on 4 May 1920 in Richmond. He played football with Yellow Cabs (Saturday Morning FL) and Nelson’s FC (Port Melbourne Hotel Competition) and was a premiership player for the latter team.

Commencing goal umpiring in the Sunday Football League, aged 37, Ray then moved to the VFL Reserve Grade between 1958 and 1963. In 1963 he umpired the VFL Reserve Grade Grand Final and was promoted to the senior list for the 1964 season.

Round two was Ray’s first VFL match. St.Kilda defeated Footscray at the Junction Oval and Ray became the 147th goal umpire in VFL history. Later that season at Windy Hill Ray was involved in one of the sensational finishes to a VFL match. Thirty-three minutes into the last quarter Essendon trail St.Kilda by a point. From 45 metres out Ken Fraser kicked a behind and was knocked over in the process. He declined Stan Fisher’s offer of another kick and less than a minute later the siren sounded.

A final in both 1967 and 1968 led to Ray’s best year. In 1969 he umpired fifteen home and away matches and his third and last final, the Preliminary, with Richmond easily accounting for Collingwood. the following week he was emergency for the VFL Grand Final.

Turning 50 in 1970 Ray had reached the compulsory retirement age but he did not go quietly. In round one at Princes Park (pictured above)  he reported Wes Lofts of Carlton with using insulting language. Schwensen stated that following a close marking decision on the behind line Lofts said, “You, you’re a nothing-that’s why you are an umpire”. Despite Schwensen having written the words down at the time, Brent Crosswell (Carlton) confirming he wrote them down and Lofts unable to remember exactly what was said (although he did admit to apologising), after a 45-minute hearing the tribunal concluded that those words were never said. Lofts was cleared.

Ray’s career with the VFL finished on Monday 28 September when he officiated in the 1970 night Grand Final between Melbourne and Footscray. It was a two-point thriller with genuine controversy.

The Dogs began the last quarter ahead and  Richard Radziminski kicked a goal at the 25 min mark to put them 14 points up. It was a windy night and many claim the shot was a behind. Ray though has never wavered, he called it a goal then and always believed it so. Melbourne kicked two late goals to fall short by two points.

At the end of his career Ray had umpired 112 VFL matches including three finals and the 1970 Night Grand Final.

Following football his enjoyment of lawn bowls saw him become a Life Member at the Carlton Bowling Club.

Ray Schwensen passed away 7 November 2011.