Leo Harry – forever an umpire

Leo Harry, NSW AFL Life Member and Vice President
Leo Harry, NSW AFL Life Member and Vice President

We pulled this out of a 1931 newspaper.

HIGH UMPIRE’S FEES
Leo Harry, chairman of tho Umpire Sydney Appointment Board, played for Northcote (Vic.) for three years, and in Sydney for 13 years. He holds what is believed to be an Australian record for umpire’s fees in any code of football.  In 1923 he received 18 guineas (believe it or not, $1200 in today’s money) for umpiring a match at Corowa, NSW. The fee was so high because Leo had to pay another man to do the work he vacated by taking the time off for the trip to the ‘bush’. Mr. Harry is a son of the (very) late Jack Harry, the famous Victorian cricketer of Northcote (Vic.). His son Jack, though only three years of age, promises to follow in his footsteps. Leo says the, youngster can run like a deer.”

Leo came to Sydney following WWI and became involved in football, firstly as an umpire and later as a league official.

He was active as a Vice President of the NSW Football League, Chairman of the Umpires’ Appointment Board for many years, NSW state team manager on several occasions and ground manager at many interstate games and finals.

It was reported in 1929:
“OFFICIAL’S RETIREMENT
Leo. Harry, hon. secretary and founder of the New South Wales Australian Rules Umpires’ Association, will retire at the end of the present season after ten years meritorious service.  Mr. Harry refers with pride to the fact that, when he formed the Association of Umpires ten years ago (1919), they were paid 2/6 ($9 in today’s money) a match. To-day they are paid £1/2/6 ($81 in today’s money). Mr. Harry’s loss will be almost irreparable.”

Then in 1947 a report said:
“AUSTRALIAN RULES STALWART
Leo Harry, claims a record for the code in this State.
He possesses life-membership medals of the N.S.W. League (1940), the NSW Australian National Football Umpire’s Association, and the Metropolitan Juniors’ Association.”

It’s amazing that people, like Leo, do so much for football and they become forgotten with the passing of time.  Leo died in 1962 aged 72.