The AFLUA’s oldest member Walter Charles Hopkins OAM has reached a remarkable 100 years of age.

‘Wally’ was born on 15th May 1924 in Seddon. At that time Europe was still recovering from the cataclysmic upheaval of war and revolution. Vladimir Lennin had died in January that year, the first successful around-the-world flight was completed, and Hitler was biding his time in Lansberg jail, following his failed Beer Hall Putsch.

It is fair to say that Wally was born in a different time. But while the world lurched between turmoil and crises, far removed from it all a young Walter Hopkins began his life-long love affair with football.

Wally’s passion for football began as a player for the Braybrook Football Club, the home of future champions Ted Whitten and Doug Hawkins. Eventually, Wally would shift to umpiring for the Footscray and District League.

In 1948, on the recommendation of the Footscray and District Umpires Association, Wally was promoted to the VFL umpiring list, completely bypassing the usual progression through the reserve grade.

Wally would go on to 306 VCFL games, including 30 Finals and 7 Grand Finals. Additionally, he umpired 2 VFL seconds games, 9 Metro F.L. games and 2 Tasmanian Football League games.

Beyond football, Wally has led an incredible life of volunteering and service. Wally has been awarded the highest honour in Australian Scouting, was Maribrynong Citizen of the Year, has 7 Life Memberships, 7 Letters of Appreciation, and 2 Citizens Awards.

In 1998, Wally was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his contributions to community service.

Wally joined the X-Umpires luncheon in Caulfield on Thursday 16th as a guest speaker. Even at 100, Walter remains lucid and conversational, walks unassisted, and even continues to live at home by himself. Wally’s mental recall is remarkable, as he recounted stories of his umpiring days, remembering details right down to score-lines and bus-trips.

It was fantastic to have Wally join us for the luncheon and celebrate his remarkable milestone birthday with a song and cake.

Thanks to the work of Graeme Fellows, you can read more about Walter’s outstanding life here.

Article by Jackson Kerr

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