Roly Grant contributed to umpiring not just with his VFL career but also across Victoria and in the Australian Capital Territory in an advisors role and left his mark on umpiring in each place he was involved.
Born Roland Norman Grant in Melbourne on 10 January 1938 he was the son of VFL umpiring and coaching legend Norm Grant and so there was always a likelihood he and his brother Bryan would take up the whistle – and so it turned out.
Beginning on the boundary in the VFL Second Eighteens in 1955 Roly transferred to the field the following year and in 1959 was promoted to the senior list. By May 1960 he was umpiring Second Eighteens football and was a regular there for most of 1961 and 1962.
On 18 August 1962 Roly earned Heritage No. 239 when he debuted in the VFL at the Lake Oval where South Melbourne played Melbourne. He backed that up with a last round appointment at Arden Street the six consecutive weeks of VCFL finals including the North Central and South Gippsland grand finals and the Tasmanian state championship match in Hobart.
Over the next several years Roly’s senior appearances were spasmodic his longest run was the first 10 rounds of 1964, a year in which he also umpired both night series semi-finals. That year Grant was the field umpire in the notorious Geelong v. North Melbourne match. Play was spiteful throughout the day and Kangaroo coach Alan Killegrew was king hit in the race. Twenty witnesses were called in a VFL investigation, including Grant and the other umpires but no charges were laid. His final VFL match was another night semi-final in 1966.
Following the 1966 season Grant took up a paid role with the Canberra Australian National Football League. His three year contract was to both umpire and serve as umpires’ advisor both roles for which he received plaudits for his efforts. He represented the ACT at the 1968 ANFC Carnival and was widely congratulated on his performance.
Returning to Melbourne in 1970 he completed a final season in the country before retiring from the VFL. At the end of his career he has totalled 31 VFL, 65 VFL Reserve Grade, 99 VCFL (8 grand finals) and 9 Tasmanian matches (2 grand finals).
Immediately after the VFL he became umpires’ advisor at the South-West Gippsland Football League until he returned for another four year stint as advisor in Canberra from 1975-78.
Roly Grant served umpiring with a passion for 24 years and was still a pssionate about it at his passing on 1 December 2016.