In almost all the recent obituaries of racing personality Vic Beitzel there was reference to his brother former umpire, VFLUA life member and well known media personality Harry. Yet only one mentioned Vic’s own umpiring career. It was penned by his nephew and yet another umpire Beitzel, Brad. The whistle blows loudly in the Beitzel clan.
Born Victor Arnold Beitzel on 6 February 1923 in Brunswick Vic grew up in North Fitzroy playing football with Myer Juniors before joining the Royal Australian Air Force aged 18 in 1941.
Originally mustered a stores clerk he served in Victoria before being posted to 11 Group and 76 Squadron with which he went overseas first to Morotai and then to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces. This later posting was for volunteers only. He returned to Australia and was demobbed in 1947.
Two years later he began umpiring with the Sunday Amateurs before moving on to the the VFL Second Eighteens in 1950. After one season there he joined Harry on the VFL senior list.
He must have been regarded as talented because unlike most umpires of the day who toured country Victoria Vic began in the VFL Second Eighteens immediately and did not ‘go bush’ until his second season. In fact, of his 60 matches 41 were in the city.
Vic retired at the end of 1954 but the second last match of his VFL career courted some controversy. Following the Geelong versus Collingwood seconds match at Kardinia Park both presidents addressed the teams as usual. However in a letter to the Investigation Committee Beitzel charged Collingwood Seconds President Jim Crowe with having used insulting and obscene language. At hearing he noted ” Crowe made “unseemly and abusive remarks about umpires in general and myself in particular” in replying to the Geelong president’s speech. He added that no applause greeted the remarks of Crowe, but the Collingwood vice-captain and coach came up and congratulated him on his umpiring. Crowe was suspended from holding office at the pleasure of the committee.
Moving to the VFA in 1955 Vic was appointed to his first senior match early that year the umpired in the seniors all season. He retired early in the 1956 season.
As evidenced by other obituaries Vic made his name in the horse-racing media. Known to most as ‘Peeping Pete’, he was a member, past president and secretary of the Victorian Racing Media Association. He was a pioneer of radio interviews with jockeys and trainers working with Bert Bryant on 3UZ. He was also a columnist with the Sunday Observer.
Vic Beitzel passed away at Sandringham Hospital on 25 January 2015 after a short illness.