Often in football umpires are remembered for the highlighted error or an idiosyncrasy rather than for their contribution to football, umpiring and the AFLUA. There is no truer statement about our latest interviewee in our series of “where are they now” than occurred to Phil Waight. Television commentator the late Ray Jordan saw to that.
Phil commenced umpiring in Ballarat in 1970 as a young boundary umpire. He joined the VFL in 1978 as a field umpire running around the bush and training at Royal Park under Bob Dunball and Jim Rolfe. Never one to sit on his hands Phil became treasurer of the association in 1979 and held that office for three years, in his time on the list he also served on the social committee and was heavily involved in the golf and cricket clubs.
Phil umpired 12 VFL senior games from 1982-85 and about 80 reserve grade matches, he umpired country grand finals in the Hampden, Bendigo, Bellarine, Hume and Tallangatta leagues. Phil returned to Ballarat in 1987, took over umpiring in that competition and shook it right up. “The restructure gave opportunity to the young men of the group,” reflected Phil. “Shane McInerney became the face of that revamp and he is still going today.” In 1990 Phil became the runner for East Ballarat under the guidance of coach Gary Odgers.
A move to Brisbane in 1991 for business reasons and a call from the Bears football manager Garry O’Sullivan saw Phil join various committees when the club moved to Brisbane. He became intrinsically involved in player welfare and development programs under Robert Walls and was the team manager for a period of time. He did the club stats until Champion Data took over and the task became too big for one man.
Phil shares his time now between his real estate business, being president of Tennis Seniors, Queensland, playing seniors tennis and playing golf at Indooroopilly Golf Club.
He takes an active interest in his sons football careers. His eldest son, Ryan, captains Redan in the Ballarat Football League and is a regular state representative who has had a decorated football career. Younger son, Jarrod, is a field umpire in the VFL who umpired senior finals in 2012. Phil was inducted as a life member of the AFLUA in 2007.