Bill Wall came to prominence in his role as the Senior Vice President of the VFLUA during the protracted dispute with the VFL in August 1981. The league’s top 32 umpires had resigned on the eve of round 19. Bill, along with President, Paul Serong and secretary Peter Bunworth entered talks with Alan Aylett, Jack Hamilton, Alan Schwab and Ian Ridley. The AFLUA 100 year publication says, “When the meeting was over and no resolution had been achieved, tempers frayed”.
When I asked Bill about his recollection of that incident, he recalled that he was challenged personally by one of the VFL negotiators in the room, “who was moving in an aggressive fashion towards him and the group”. He laughed and said, “Thank goodness common sense prevailed.”
Bill commenced umpiring in the VFL reserve grade in 1974 following a serious neck injury he received while playing amateur football for Power House. “I cracked a couple of vertebrae in my neck and was advised to give up playing. After being discharged from the Alfred, I spent some time contemplating what I could do if I didn’t play footy. A year later, a colleague I worked with suggested I take up umpiring. I was interviewed by the reserve grade board at the old Gas & Fuel building in a group which included a young Rowan Sawers. Amazing how careers can go in completely different directions,” laughed Bill. (Rowan umpired 410 games including 4 grand finals) Bill umpired 3 VFL reserves games with Geoff Morrow and suggested he was probably lucky to do that many. He remembers Peter Cameron the senior umpire for the day say at half-time he was impressed with Bill’s performance during what was to be his last reserves match played at Victoria Park between Collingwood and Essendon. It took him longer to get home from that one (1:30am) than it did from a game in Albury. After that, it was back to the bush for Bill.
Bill came onto the VFL senior list in 1976 and umpired for seven years before his retirement in 1982. “Bill Deller came to me and clearly indicated that the list was going to be trimmed because country competitions were reducing their intake of VFL umpires and seeing the writing on the wall, I decided to give it away.”
Bill was a member of the Man-In-White committee for two seasons (1977-78) Such was his popularity among the group, was elected to the executive committee member in 1979 and then Junior Vice President in 1980, Senior Vice President in 1981 and President of the VFLUA in 1982. ” I found that being involved in Association affairs was both good for my personal development as well helping to bring benefits of all members,” reflected Bill today.
“I probably loved the social side of umpiring a bit too much. On occasions I would tell the the cab to go without me and that I’d catch up later that night at the hotel where we were overnighting. I missed my share of trains and once hitch-hiked back from Wagga in an 18 wheel semi-trailer. Some of my favourite comps were the Ovens and Murray, the LaTrobe Valley and Riverina leagues, the footy was hard and the company was great. I did a preliminary final in Queenstown, Tasmania on the grassless silicon based oval and had to “blow time-on” while waiting for the ball to re-enter the atmosphere at the centre bounce, a grand final in the Ovens and King League along with a number of other finals.
Bill was awarded honorary life membership of the AFLUA in 1983. “I left footy for a few years to finish building a mud brick house in Woodend and focus on my sales career. I was invited to the Riddell League as their advisor for two years and had a great time introducing young umpires into senior footy. With the help of John Russo and Michael Sneddon we recruited youngsters from the schools, some of whom went on to umpire in the VFL.
“You know, I took a lot of things for granted as a young bloke travelling around the bush umpiring but when I look back on it, umpiring had the most important impact on my life from the lessons learned. It taught me to be responsible, disciplined, to make decisions under pressure, it helped my personal confidence and deal with all sorts of people and situations.”
Bill is a strong supporter of the AFLUA, he and his wife recently closed a retail outlet, Ties ‘n’ Things that had offered members discounts for many years. A regular attendee at the Past Presidents’ Luncheon each year, Bill has established a Real Estate career with Fletchers. Wanting to continue his support of our members Bill has offered his services, so if you are looking to buy or sell, we specialize in Melbourne’s eastern and south-east corridors.
“Fletchers is an established 4th Generation family business since 1919, that has been providing premier real estate services across Melbourne. With its origins in the eastern suburbs, we now operate a growing network of offices throughout Victoria. When you decide to sell your property with Fletchers, our entire team of expert estate agents participate in finding potential buyers. They are encouraged to introduce qualified prospective clients from among their current contacts, our network’s integrated database and sometimes, from the most unexpected sources.
So if you are planning to sell a property now or in the future I am delighted to be able to make the following offers:”
For AFLUA members only – please see the members section of the website.