The AFLUA is saddened to learn of the passing of Keith Pawley.
One of four Pawley family members to have also been a member of the association, Keith was a country field umpire, VFL goal umpire, life member and Hall of Fame inductee in a career spanning 31 seasons.
Born as one of twins on 13 December 1926, Keith grew up in Northcote and played football for East Brunswick Methodists. His father, Ernest, had been a VFL umpire in the 1930s, primarily in the country but also appointed to three VFL matches as a field umpire and a further two on the boundary. Both Keith and his twin, Reg, also took up the whistle.
Keith joined the VFA as a boundary umpire in 1946 before moving onto the VFL Second Eighteens two years later in the field. His promotion was swift, and he joined the VFL senior list in 1950.
During his tenth country season, he umpired the 1959 Hampden Football League Second Semi-final between Mortlake and Cobden at Camperdown. The match finished in a draw. It was not particularly noteworthy until you realise that the previous drawn final in that competition was the 1934 second-semi umpired by Keith’s father, Ernest.
Regularly appointed to the Second Eighteen competition during 1957-1958, Keith was unable to break into VFL football and following the completion of the 1962 season, he retired from field umpiring. In 13 seasons, he had umpired 14 Reserve Grade, 229 VCFL and 10 Tasmanian matches. This included 37 finals, of which 5 were grand finals.
From 1964-1968, he returned to the now-named VFL Reserve Grade as a goal umpire. Promotion to the VFL came in 1969 following his appointment to the 1967 and 1968 VFL Reserve Grade Grand Finals.
Keith debuted on 12 April 1969 in a two-point thriller between South Melbourne and Fitzroy at the Lake Oval, earning Heritage No. 154. That year was also particularly special, as in Round 12, he was appointed for the first time with Reg. They would go on to goal umpire 12 matches together, including the 1972 VFL Qualifying Final.
His first final came in 1971 and his last of three in 1975. Compulsory retirement at age 50 was the VFL rule, and Keith finished with 139 day and 3-night premiership matches to his credit.
Awarded life membership of the VFLUA in 1960, he was one of the original 99 inductees of the AFLUA Hall of Fame in 2008. The Pawley tables on the night were enormous and testament to the honour Keith felt in his induction and the love of family that were there for that night of nights.
Keith Pawley passed away on 9 July 2022 surrounded by family. He will not be forgotten by those whose lives he touched both within and outside football.
Written by: David Flegg (AFLUA Historian-Statistician)