Peter Kelly Retires


Peter Kelly Retires

The words on the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Peter Kelly at the 2021 VFUA Life Members Dinner capture the essence of his vast contribution:

A man whose passion for umpiring has changed the game. This award celebrates his extraordinary contribution and lifetime commitment to the umpiring profession and the association since its inception.

But what of the detail; and details were always part of the way PK conducted business – endless details.
The VFUA was formed in 1992 and began work for the 1993 season as the Victorian State Football League Umpires’ Association – Social Secretary, Peter Kelly.

In the following years PK and his committees organised 5-6 events per year from the UPD to variety nights to the grand final dinner dances. These events were also run for the AFLUA and catered for upwards of 350 attendees at the ball.  Taking on the role of both treasurer and social secretary in 1994 he was instrumental in the change of structure of the association from 1995 when he became VFUA administrator and later executive officer.

As 1996 President Greg Kennedy noted “My greatest recollection of PK during my time as president, was I never once had to worry about anything administrative. The VFUA was only a few years old and it was new ground we were breaking. Peter was instrumental in the formation of this great group”.

As administrator much fell into PK’s purview. Dealing with the VFL administration, usually in the form of Kevin Mitchell could be challenging but PK developed a process to deal with Mitch, his reactions and the sometimes concerning liberties or directions the VFL wanted to take with its umpires.

It was an indication of 2006-07 President, Rob Findlay’s thoughts that “PKs greatest asset is his ability to develop fantastic relationships with people across a broad spectrum. PK’s experience in human resources certainly put him in the box seat for drafting policies and initiatives in advance of the VFL: heat policy, formalised selection policies, extensive contributions to fees and condition arrangements, the biennial VFUA survey and he was also never far away from social events as either having some part in planning or as an enthusiastic participant.

And it was not just the VFUA as an organisation that benefitted from his involvement. Two former presidents both reflected what the association and individuals received:

I loved working with PK and learnt a lot. There was never anything left to chance. He thought of everything and he is the single reason why our Association is in such good order today. Presidents and Executive members come and go. This can have a topsy turvy effect on any Association. However, PK has been the rock. The strategy has never diverted and each year the conditions for umpires in the VFL get better and better. Umpires are respected more and the powers that be at Football Victoria have a greater understanding of who we are and what we want to achieve. Why – because one man has had a single vision. That vision has been to ensure that every umpire has the best possible chance to succeed and that they are well looked after by a professional organisation whilst they are a member (Russell Davidson, 1999)

If PK had not taken the VFUA by the reins who knows where it may have ended up. His passion, dedication and certainly commitment to his roles, the Executive Officer position, show what type of person PK is. He has assisted a lot of people, including myself with their leadership skills and developed some fantastic role models for up and coming umpires. He has done all this whilst most importantly having fun (Adam Wojcik, 2007)

VFUA matters were never far from his mind regardless of location. Richard Mills recruitment as president was one example.

“In my time on the list PK was always present at functions (drink in hand!) mixing with and welcoming everyone that came along. I used to run into PK at any one of the many MCC bar’s on grand final day each year and we would have a chat. One year the conversation turned into an invitation to run for presidency of the association – an invitation I took up. Without having been on the executive before – it was always going to be a big challenge. PK was there right the way though, always a constant support.”

And let us not forget that PK was also a 36-match AFL goal umpire in the early days of the then VSFLUA and had contributed to the AFLUA on the Social Committee in 1989 and as Social Secretary in 1992 before that role was merged with the VSFLUA. He was also Penguin Vic while working at the Department of Tourism, being aptly cast through both stature and likeability.

Also, he contributed to the administration of the Southern Football League umpires (now SFNL) and Southern Umpires Association at various times during his VFUA tenure

Currently working in a part-time role with the AFLUA it’s a pretty full working life following his retirement from the Victorian public service – although they will be noting a large drop in the photocopying and printing costs in the last few years.

Peter Kelly leaves VFUA office having after 29 of outstanding service he has taken the association from infancy to maturity such that it was recognised as the bargaining agent for the new VFL competition incorporating umpires from NSW and Queensland.

He remains as life member, Special Award and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and respected among the association Executive Committees with which he has worked and by the generations of umpires he has served.

“A man whose passion for umpiring has changed the game”

VFUA Team of the Decade


2020 Virtual Finals Series – Team of the Decade

Calling all members & Victorian Umpiring supporters!

Each week during the abandoned 2020 VFL Finals Series we will be showcasing the best VFL umpires of the past decade, culminating in a #TeamOfTheDecade for the VFUA. #IsolationSeason

And we want you to vote!

How it will work:

  • Nominations for each discipline will be released each week of the “virtual finals series”
  • Individual Umpires will be nominated by the VFUA based on their career statistics & achievements
  • Facebook Voting Polls will be open Monday & close the following Saturday for that group
  • We encourage everyone to share their stories and facts about the Nominees on the page


2020 Virtual Mini Olympics Launched


2020 Paul Anderson Memorial “Virtual” Mini-Olympics

4th May 2020

The time has come for us to officially launch the 2020 Mini Olympics.
Due to the current circumstances, we will be doing things differently & conducting this years’ events virtually.

Support our Victorian umpires, watch them battle it out for the Paul Anderson Memorial Shield & donate to a great cause – Cancer Council Victoria.

• Events begin 4th May, winning squads will be posted after each event is completed over the next 5 weeks.
• To register your donation visit our GoFundMe page
• To read more about the Paul Anderson Memorial Shield visit




2019 Award Winners Announced at AGM

At the 2019 VFUA AGM the award winners for 2019 were announced

coreyThe association’s highest award, life membership was voted on and Nick Brown, Simon Plumridge, Andrew Leggo and Dean Jones were successful.

The Best First Year Umpire Awards had been presented at the VFUA Ball in September: Shamus Dundon (F), Corey Malcolm (B) and Thomas Gath (G) were the nominees for the The Frank Leverett Shield. Awarded to the best overall first year umpire, Corey Malcolm was selected to receive the FLS for 2019

Most Improved for each of the senior squads were as follows:

Field – Luke Porter
Boundary – Matt Crowley
Goal – James Rizio

Congratulations to all.

Pic: @PicsByRossM

2019 Paul Anderson Mini-Olympics

IMGP9728aAs per tradition, the annual Paul Anderson Mini-Olympics took place once again in 2019. An event that has been running for more than 15 years. The event took place on what would usually be a gruelling pre-season Thursday, normally filled with strenuous running reps, but instead the 21st of February was filled with compassion. On the flip side, the night was not without competition. Six squads clashed head to head as development and senior boundary, goal and field umpires fought it out for the overall victory.

Participants in the first few events were thrown straight into the fire. Quoits inside the fieldies locker room. Two team members from different groups took to the carpet, surrounded by umpires from all disciplines. Greta Miller looked to defend her title as most outstanding quoits player in 2018 and did so by defeating stalwart Tom Chrystie (T-rip) in a sudden death battle. Tunnel ball followed and was a bit more forgiving for those involved as participants were able to work in teams. A high standard of tunnel balling was displayed by all teams that weren’t called development field, who finished woefully in last place.

IMGP9699 (2)The lush green surface of Victoria Park opened up to us at 6.30 and it wasn’t long until members of the 4x200m team were trampling it. Another year of controversy clouded the event as the handicapping system was once again off the mark. However, this did not stop Brenton Dickson from bringing home the win for development boundary – although we still aren’t sure if he has located the correct finish line yet. Senior boundary was up in arms as they fiercely debated the integrity of the event, but there were no complaints from the development goalies who forgot how many athletes are required in the 4x200m race.

Soccer, also known as the participation sport, was up next. Masses of players took to the pitches and hacked away at a foreign circular object. All umpiring prowess went out the window as legs were chopped, bodies bumped and rules bended. Lachlan Higgs secured the win for development boundary in their first game. Not with a goal, but with an unsportsmanlike boot that sent the ball sailing out of bounds, taking any remaining time with it. A matchup between development and senior field ended in controversy, with Matt Young’s senior team coming out on top. However, allegations of extra players on the field clouded the victory.

The pressure once again mounted as teams gathered to show off their ‘bouncing’ and ‘throw-in’ abilities, a nervous occasion for those who perform such acts on a day to day basis. For the others, it was an opportunity to show the pros up, and show them up they did. Senior boundary umpire Travis Taylor snatched the win away from the fieldies with an excellent bounce that achieved him maximum points. Unfortunately for goal umpire Jackson Griffiths, his bouncing ability did not match up to his ability to don some impressive glasses.
IMGP9726 (2)
The goal-kicking competition was more relaxed this year, expect for invite for trial Darcy Trewarn who talked himself up big time before his attempts at the big sticks. Although he was not victorious, rumours of the overall victor were spreading, with development boundary looking like the runaway favourites. The result was confirmed and development boundary secured the win for the 2019 2019 Paul Anderson Mini-Olympics (Insert ‘The Bev Show’ quote here).

Following the events, it was great to see everyone grab a snag and come together in memory of Paul Anderson, a VFL umpire who lost his battle with cancer in 2001. The night raised over $1665 for the Cancer Council.

A thank you must now go out to the VFUA executive team for organising the event, as well as to AFL Victoria who have supported this event from the very beginning – happily helping out with set-up, BBQ and allowing us to have a training night to stage the event. See you all next year!

2018 Paul Anderson Mini-Olympics

IMGP9475The Paul Anderson Mini-Olympics has now been running for over 15 years. This year as usual it took place on a Thursday afternoon as a replacement for normal pre-season training (a break from pre-season training is always welcomed by all!), on the 22nd of February 2018. It pits all six squads against each other (field, boundary and goal, split up into development and senior teams) to prove who is really the best-on-ground at Victoria Park.

This year, it kicked off with two never-before-seen events held inside the training rooms: football Hacky Sack and quoits. Quoits was a huge success, with scorer Andrew Talbot (back again after accusations of cheating in 2017) confirming at the end of the event that it was in fact a tie for first! Greta Miller, after successfully landing 5 shots in a row during regulation, stepped up again for the development boundaries in the tiebreak defeating Annie Mirabile (senior field).

Now it was time for the controversial new handicap system for the 4 x 200m relay to be put to the test! Development IMGP9477aboundaries were strong favourites early to go back-to-back in this event after recruiting Matt Crowley over the off-season, who is rumoured to be the progeny of a fifth place 1500m finisher at the Olympics. Intrigue surrounded the dropping of the baton by Lachlan Floyd (development field) who alleged Blake Anderson (development boundary) deliberately knocked it out of his flailing arms. In the end it was an extremely tight finish with senior field taking the gold after a heroic diving effort over the line from anchor Patrick Burns.

Perennial favourite soccer was next, running in conjunction with yet another new event: goal kicking. Despite losses in their first three games, a parochial crowd supporting the development field umpires erupted after Cameron Watts netted a winner in game 4. Unfortunately for them you don’t win the Mini-Olympics for having the loudest supporters, with the senior fieldies taking out the soccer competition. The goal kicking event saw Dean Jones take advantage of no shot clock, adopting the Ahmed Saad run up and leading the senior goal umpires to victory.

Tradition now saw everyone gather in a ring to observe the final two events of the night: the boundary throw-in and bounce. Fortunately the senior field umpires, no squad was able to score maximum points in either of these events, and the Paul Anderson Shield was awarded to them for the second year running.

Following the events it was great to see everyone grab a snag (or 7 as in the case of senior boundary umpire Tom Horsten!) and come together in memory of Paul Anderson, a VFL umpire who lost his battle with cancer in 2001. The night raised over $1,200 for the Cancer Council.

A thank you must now go out to the VFUA executive team for organising the event, as well as to AFL Victoria who have supported this event from the very beginning – happily helping out with set-up, BBQ, refereeing of events as well as allowing us to have a training night to stage the event.

The support we receive from the Anderson family who have attended EVERY year since the event was named in honour of Paul is remarkable and testimony to the effect that his life and struggle against cancer had on so many friends and family.

See you all next year!

Photos on Facebook 


VFL Grand Final Function

VFL_GF_Fieldies2A magnificent comeback by the Port Melbourne set the scene for the VFUA Grand Final function in the Studio room at Etihad Stadium. A dramatic ending unfolded with Richmond failing to kick a goal after the siren leaving Port Melbourne narrowly in front and the winners of their 17th flag in the club’s history.

Warmly welcoming umpires and guests at the front door, Lachy Harty and Andrew ‘The Lawnman’ Leggo appeared to have a good system going with drink cards, raffle tickets and cash flying in all directions, whilst ensuring no spillage of their sacred beer beverages.

VFL_GF_GoaliesUmpires and guests welcomed the VFL Grand Final umpires who then partook in the drawing of the association’s annual fundraiser – the $1,000 Draw. ‘Host with the Most’ Nick Brown took to the stage and built up the suspense as one name after another was eliminated. Down to the final two, Nick used his deal making skills to see who would place most money on the bar.

The winner was Matthew Butcher who kindly donated $500 to the bar whilst pocketing another $500 for himself. Well done and thank you!

Once formalities were over, the party kicked on with music provided by Joel Quinn. A roaming mike was soon canvassing the floor with many sorry tales being recorded for the 2017 Grand Final Ball video.


The event this year was different given it was being held whilst the TAC Cup grand final was being played. Who would have guessed that another grand final would be decided after the siren. The Geelong Falcons hung on after the Sandringham Dragons failed to capitalise on a shot for goal from 20 metres directly in front after the siren.

Well done to all our grand final umpires who participated in grand finals this year. You did us all proud. Also thank you to Daniel Butcher and Nick Brown for the work they did behind the scenes in organising this new look event. And lastly, thank you to all the ticket sellers who contributed to the success of the special effort for season 2017.

2017 VFUA Ball

The Annual Ball was again held at the Lincoln on Toorak on Thursday, 28 September 2017. Becoming tradition, the night was again hosted by Channel 7 Sports Commentator, Jason Bennett – Jason hosted a likely record attendance with 138 members and guests in attendance. The youngest being President Michael Curtis’s, three-month old son.

The night kicked on with a captivating interview and recognition of VFUA legends Peter Kelly (PK), David Flegg (Fleggy) and Jamie Grindal whilst asking the tough questions was the best dressed (in his opinion) Vice President, Nick Brown. All in attendance were given the opportunity to recognise the contribution of these gentlemen whilst also hearing a few humorous little known facts.

Breaking up the night with a few giggles was footage of the Grand Final After Party which included ‘Roaming Butch’. Much to the satisfaction of all in attendance this segment demonstrated a few stumbling and slurring umpires who had likely already forgotten who had actually won the Grand Final that same day.

Finally the night offered a final congratulations to all Grand Final umpires, particularly those umpires who officiated the VFL Grand Final.

The VFUA Ball, as always, provided the final closure and celebration of yet another football season. A big thank you and congratulations to all 2017 VFUA members – 2017 saw big lists, new squads and new memories!

A special thank you to Daniel Butcher and Nick Brown who together planned and executed the night to ensure an enjoyable and engaging evening – THANK YOU!!


2017 VFUA Poker Night

The poker world has crowned a new champion! Saturday was the biggest night of the year for VFUA poker players and fans – the annual VFUA Poker Night.

When the last river card was dealt, Sam Walsh held all the chips. Walsh earned a trip for two to Bali for first place and now holds the most coveted prize in poker, the Poker Deluxe VFUA Champion trophy.


The victory puts Walsh in select company in poker history, placing him alongside legend of the game, Simon Blight. After the event, ‘Walshy’ was the picture of humility. One of his first remarks in the post-tournament press conference was his shock win. He was then straight on to the phone to start the bidding war between close friends to see who would join him on his tropical holiday.  Sam defied all the critics with this win, with his biggest critic, fellow goalie, Kate Griffiths, declaring, “I thought Sam would be one of the first out on the final table!”


When the final table of 9 began, each discipline was evenly represented. Chris Doyle and Pete McCaw were the first to lose their chips when taken on by Andrew Talbot. Mel Sambrooks started with the least amount of chips, but won an important hand to keep her going. Liam Pain started a new poker term, the Painy; an automatic $2000 bet regardless of the minimum bet. Sambrooks was the next to go, and the next elimination would be hard to come by as still one would miss out on the much fought after prizes!

Talbot_poker_runner-upWalsh had a couple of close scares of an early exit, but managed to survive as Griffiths was unable to survive till the final 5. Painy took on two too many hands, matching an all-in, then going all-in, against a pair of Aces on both occasions, leaving him in 5th for a set of movie tickets. Walshy and Adam Bell went toe-to-toe, leaving Walsh in a strong position. Belly, Pain’s mate and Talbot went all-in, with the latter taking the hand and leaving the tournament with two competitors left.


The final two exchanged pleasantries, talking about their nerves and rise in heart rates. But it didn’t take many hands for Walsh to wrap up the night and the trip!

Thanks to Kelly for putting on the night and to those that attended to make the night an enjoyable one for all.


Life Members’ Dinner 2017

Sunday evening, 4 June saw the annual gathering of the VFUA life members at the Exchange Hotel Bourke Street, Melbourne. 

As well as the ‘usual suspects’ who attend every year we had the welcome return of Lindsey Hardman who was in Australia for the first time in a while and the delightful addition of Sue Sambrooks, boundary track rep Melissa’s mum. While there were a number of apologies this year Richard Mills please check your calendar more carefully in future – we missed you.

life members butcher

The dinner marked 20 years as life members for Judi Elliott, John Hall and David Flegg but was the first for newly inducted 2016 life member Daniel Butcher. Daniel’s terms as track representative (2012), communications officer (2013), vice-president (2014) and president (2015) indicate his outstanding service to the VFUA through almost the entirety of his time with the VFL and he spoke eloquently about what life membership meant to him.

Equally worthy of the honour a last minute difficulty meant Daniel Pieper was unable to attend and will be presented with his certificate and badge at a future date.

The range of umpiring and football related activities and involvements still undertaken by VFUA life members gives further indication of how much their commitment to the association is an extension of their commitment generally. From trainers, long-serving community umpires and administrators, coaches and observers to even statisticians they continue to give passionately to what they love.

It serves as an excellent example to the current VFUA Executive Committee who were also in attendance and were able to connect with a life members and hopefully take away some of their experiences for consideration. The VFUA has always attracted the best, the brightest and those who most want to make some sort of difference to the umpiring experience and the Life Members’ Dinner is a celebration of those qualities.

Thanks go to David Flegg for his (somewhat laissez-faire) organisation of the night, to Nick Brown for his ‘State of the VFUA address’, the Association for its subsidy of the catering and to all who attended to make a great night!