The Ballarat Football Umpires League was formed on Thursday 7th August 1913 when a group of people met at the Unicorn Hotel in Unicorn Lane, Ballarat for the purpose of forming the Ballarat Football Umpires League. The meeting was chaired by Mr J Dillon other members were Mr H Bremmner and Mr A Marks who were elected secretary on the night and subsequently held this position for the next 27 years (a record), until the League (Association) went into recess during the war years 1940-1945.
1920 – 1939
During the early years boundary and goal umpires were not part of the association and all duties were carried out by the appointed Field Umpire. However, as the game made its way into the early to mid-thirties the need to have umpires to officate on the goals scored and now that the official dimensions of the ground had been finalised, the need for officials to adjudicate on the ball crossing the boundary had become apparent. Associations around the country had now started to appoint these officials. In 1936 Stuart Hunter an early member of the Association formed a band of members to carry out these duties and asked if they could attend Lectures, this was granted and so the introduction of these official to the associations ranks.
TRAGEDY in the bfua
In 1953 a tragedy struck the Ballarat Football Umpires Association when two of its members were killed while returning from a match. Umpires A. Pilven and J. Westmore were killed when their car collided with a train on the Wallace level crossing on August 1st 1953. The tragedy was added to by the fact that no umpires at the time were covered by insurance. A public appeal was launched and many charity and sporting events, concerts, and working bees were held to help the widows of these two men. The need for an insurance cover was painfully obvious and for the first time, a policy was taken out by the Victorian Country Football League to cover all officiating umpires.
In the mid-2000s Mark Gray from Geelong was appointed to the position of full-time General Manager and held this position for 3 years. This was a time when the Ballarat Football Umpires Association became part of the Ballarat Leagues Hub. This was made up of the Ballarat Football League, Ballarat Junior Football League, Central Highlands Football League, Maryborough Castlemaine Football League, and the Ballarat Umpires Association. Most of the administration was carried out in Saxon House, with Mark working closely with members of the Hub. However, the Umpires Association still remained somewhat autonomous. Umpires’ appointments, lectures, and all social activities remained with the association and they still retained their Chairperson and Board of Directors.
In 2001 The Board of Directors decided that it was appropriate to name the top 10 Field umpires of the century.
A panel was formed with Malcolm Rock appointed as Chairman and with the assistance of the late Jim Murphy a prominent sports journalist with the local Ballarat Courier Newspaper and also a past member of the association.
After much discussion and fact-finding 10 names were decided on, they included members dating back to the early days of the association through to umpires who were still current members. The 10 members were;
Jim Lawn *, Eddie Wright *, Webber Jackson *, Ian Donald, Geoff Wallis, Stan Schaper, Chris Brown, Ian Waight, Ian Bedford, John Morgan. (* deceased)
0400 477 251 – Billy, Head of umpiring Operations
City Oval – 1431, Mair street, Ballarat
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