In early 2002 the umpiring fraternity lost two popular and respected members in Geoff Lee and Vas Vasiliou. While neither was a Life Member of the AFLUA, both were a part of umpiring history. Geoff for his prowess on the boundary, including two VFL Grand Finals in the early seventies, and Vas for his pocket battleship physique, swarthy appearance and his energetic control of VFL matches that made him somewhat of an early eighties umpiring character.
Vas Vasiliou died on 13 February 2002 as the result of a brain haemorrhage suffered two days prior. That he was aged 45 and in great physical shape makes his passing even more heartrending.
Born Vasos Vasilou on 11 September 1956 he joined the VFL Reserve Grade as a field umpire in 1977. Promotion to the senior list came in 1979 and following two years in the bush he was a regular in the VFL Reserve Grade for all of 1981. He finished that year with Grand Finals in the Hume and Northern District leagues which set up the following year.
Vas was appointed to his first VFL match in round one 1982. The match was St.Kilda v. Hawthorn and it earned him Heritage Number 291. He umpired the first nine rounds and a total of fifteen for the season. Another good start in 1983 was undone my a mid-year loss of form that found him finishing the year in the year in the reserves, which was where he began in 1984. The exception were his final three senior matches in mid-season. Vas retired at the end of the 1984 season witha total of 26 VFL matches, 29 Reserve Grade and 72 VCFL matches.
After retiring from the Royal Australian Air Force in 2001 after more than 20 years service to his country, he was still a working for the RAAF — in the RAAF Reserve — at the time of his death.
It is remarkable how many football people remember Vas given his relatively short 26 senior VFL match career that spanned the seasons 1982 to 1984.
Perhaps it was his unique name; perhaps it was his energetic style; or perhaps even his physical appearance. But, for those who knew him, it was his friendliness, humour and enthusiasm that will remain with them. Vas’s enjoyment of his umpiring was clearly evident — he took it seriously but also knew how to have fun both on and off the field. He was one of umpiring’s true characters and will be sadly missed.