Now the entertainment industry may have had Frank Sinatra, but our next ‘Where are they now?’ Stanley Fisher (better known as Stan to all VFLUA members and Ginger to his mates) was a member of the Umpires’ Appointment Board for 14 years including four as Chairman of the Board. During that era, members of the Board voted on who would be umpiring the next week.
Born in Colac on 14thJanuary 1933 to Noel and Jean Fisher, Stanley spent his early years in the town of Colac. His father was a champion full forward for the Colac Football Club. The family moved to Northcote in 1936 after Noel was invited to play with Fitzroy. He played 7 games before continuing his career with Preston and Sandringham in the VFA.
In 1937 at the age of 4 years of age, Stan attended St Joseph Catholic School in Northcote. In 1947, he earned himself a scholarship and attended St Coleman’s Scholarship class for one year. Stan attended St Joseph Technical College in Abbotsford for 2 years studying for a Junior Technical Certificate.
From 1950 to 1954, Stan held a position as a Fitter and Turner apprentice with Stanford Xray before moving onto Sutton Tool and Gauge for one year. Wanting to try something different, Stan moved to selling clothing for one year with Alexanders Clothing Store in Northcote.
During this time, Stan was an excellent sportsman in both football where he played for Northcote in the VFA, winning the Best and Fairest in 1953, whilst also playing cricket for Northcote in the Victorian Cricket Association. He played 93 matches with the First Eleven, winning the club championship in 1953/54. He was handy with the bat with a high score of 72 against Collingwood and a good bowler with his best performance being 6/42 against Richmond. Stan was selected to play with the Victorian Colts Cricket team against the Public School Eleven.
Stan broke his leg playing football in 1953 so a friend Jack Keenan suggested to Stan that he apply to the VFL Reserve Grade list of umpires in 1954. During the same time, he began employment as an Engineering Estimator with Australian Paper Mills, a position he held for 10 years.
After three years umpiring on the Reserve Grade list, Stan was promoted onto the Senior List in 1957 where his first appointment was Orbost v Maffra in the Gippsland League. In 1958, Stan was appointed to his first VFL Reserve Grade game at the Lakeside Oval with Hawthorn winning 14.8 to South Melbourne 5.6.
Over the next four years Stan would receive a few games in the seconds when in 1963 after 22 VFL Reserve Grade games, he was appointed to his first senior game in round 12 at the Western Oval where Footscray defeated North Melbourne 10.11 to 7.10. Stan was a regular in the seniors over the next five years and was rewarded with the VFL Reserves Grade Preliminary Final and Grand Final, where Geelong 13.12 defeated St Kilda 7.11. Over the same period, Stan officiated in VCFL Grand Finals in the following leagues: S.17, Sunraysia, South West x 2, Tatiara, Central Riverina, Yarra Valley, Tasmania, North West Union, Goulburn Valley x 2, Ballarat, Wimmera x 2, LaTrobe Valley, UML, Bass Valley and Mid Murray. He also clocked up 9 Inter-League games from 1961 to 1968, as well as 24 VCFL finals matches.
During this time, Stan made a visit to the Peter Mac Hospital where he met a lovely nurse – Joan from Rockhampton, Queensland. The couple started dating and were married in 1965. They have a daughter Rachael Fisher who is married to Daniel with 4 children, all boys, who have active interests in football, cricket and basketball.
Some career highlights include a game at Kardinia Park between Geelong and Essendon when a spectator ran onto the ground and wanted to knock Stan’s head off during the match. Lucky for Stan, Essendon ruckman Ken Timms was nearby and went to Stan’s assistance putting the spectator on his rear end. He was then politely dealt with by Victorian Police.
During the 1965 season one of the biggest and least remembered incidents took place at Trumper Park in NSW in July when NSW played North Melbourne. North’s coach Alan Killigrew told officials that ‘he would not let his boys be umpired by someone from a football outpost like Sydney.’ Killigrew had brought his own umpire along who happened to be Stan Fisher. Appointed umpire Len Palmer, himself a competent umpire who had umpired in the VFL Reserves list in 1964, was unappointed. Stan was embarrassed by the controversy and suggested to Len that they umpire one half each. Len could see that wouldn’t work and declined the offer. Minutes before the start of the game, Sydney officials capitulated.
In round 15 of the 1965 season, Stan’s match at Windy Hill also ended in controversial circumstances when Stan, with only seconds to play, awarded another kick to Essendon’s Ken Fraser after he was pushed in the back by Geelong player John Watts, after he disposed of the ball. Ken’s kick had sailed through for a behind to level the scores. After the score was registered, Essendon’s captain Jack Clark raced over to Fraser and told him to let the point stand as he didn’t think he would be able to kick that far again, and they might lose the match.
1965 was a good season for Stan. He umpired 21 games for the season and was appointed to the grand final of the Interstate Carnival between South Australia (14.24) and Tasmania (16.6) in Hobart. During the game, a train running adjacent to the ground sounded its horn. Stan stopped the game but on learning what had happened, restarted the game with no fuss. Stan umpired his only final in 1965 with St Kilda 13.24 defeating Collingwood 14.17 by one point in front of a crowd of 98,395. Stan was invited to the Umpires’ Board meeting on Grand Final day, himself a chance of umpiring the grand final but the appointment was awarded to Jeff Crouch. Stan was emergency umpire for the 1965 grand final and on the following Monday night, he umpired the Night Grand Final where North Melbourne 14.13 defeated Carlton 9.3 at the Lakeside Oval.
In 1966 Stan failed to be appointed to a VFL final and in 1967, he was appointed to two night finals. During a South Warrnambool v Warrnambool game, Stan was given a rough time by the crowd who felt he was biased in his umpiring, given his dad had come from South Warrnambool. Far from the truth.
In 1967, Stan moved to the Nylex Corporation as their Human Resources Manager in Mentone where he was employed until his retirement in 2003.
In 1968, Stan umpired 2 VFL Reserves and 20 VCFL games and his last game on the list was the Goulburn Valley Preliminary Final where Lemnos 10.9 defeated Mooroopna 6.16. Obviously disappointed Stan decided to retire at the end of the 1968 season. His record included: 74 VFL games, 38 VFL Reserve games, 149 VCFL games, 18 VCFL grand finals, 24 VCFL finals with 9 inter-league games. He also officiated in 3 Reserve finals with one grand final, one Interstate Carnival grand final, one night grand final and 2 other night finals.
In 1969, the opportunity came up to become a VFL Boardman, a position he held for 14 years, including four years as Chairman of the Board.
In the 1980 night grand final, field umpire Ian Robinson paid a mark to Good of North Melbourne several seconds after the final siren had sounded. Robinson had not heard the siren due to the crowd noise. North were trailing at the time by 2 points. With the crowd swarming onto the ground, Good kicked a goal for North Melbourne to win the premiership by 4 points. After the game, Robinson refused to comment to the waiting media, but VFL Boardman Stan Fisher said in the room after the game, “They still haven’t heard the siren.”
In 1982, Stan retired from his umpiring career after 29 years, including 15 on the field and 14 as a Boardman. He thoroughly enjoyed his time in umpiring developing life time friends and enjoying the great hospitality of country people. Asked what he thought of football today, Stan commented that he doesn’t like how players kick the ball backwards although he understands it’s a possession game these days.
In 2013, Stan and Joan travelled to Canada for 3 weeks but most of their holidays are spent in Australia especially at Rockhampton where Joan has family. Stan used to play golf 3 times a week and loved table tennis but these days at the age of 86, has recently had a back operation and spends a fair amount of time in rehabilitation. Stan’s wife has recently retired after 56 years working with Melbourne Pathology.
Congratulations Stan on a fantastic career and we wish you and Joan a continued happy retirement!
Article written by: AFLUA Life Member, Graeme ’Whizzer’ Fellows