Old Umpires Never Die

2015 McSweeney, Macpherson, Huon thumbnailHow does the saying go?  “Old umpires never die, they simply lose their whistle.”

Such was the case today when these two former Sydney umpires paid a surprise visit to the Society’s rooms at the Western Suburbs Aussie Rules Club, Croydon Park.

On the left in the pic is Jim McSweeney who did his first umpiring job in the mid 1950s;  He is now 81.  And on the right is Chris Huon, the man we described forever a bridesmaid, never a bride, meaning that he got second place in at least three umpiring appointments in Sydney during his career.

He told the story today that in the days of the single umpire in the late 1960s, two would be appointed to the grand final.  Both would dress and ready themselves for the game.  Then, the chairman of the Umpires’ Appointment Board would come into the umpires room at Trumper Park and announce who was to control the game.  Chris always got second place and the position of reserve umpire, on the bench.

Nevertheless the two assumed a number of roles in their time on the committee of the Umpires’ Association, from president through to treasurer.

The two still umpire today, this time they officiate in the Masters Football Competition in Sydney.

Chris brought with him a number of items he donated to the Society which were precious to him during his time with the whistle.  They include rule books, appointment sheets, notes on umpiring, meeting minutes etc.  The Society will scan then house these objects in their collection at Croydon Park.

While Jim had with him a photo of the umpires who officiated in the 1969 Under 19 Grand Final.  From left: Graeme 1969 U19 Grand Final Umpires thumbnailWhykes, Ken Smith, Leo Magee, Jim McSweeney, Peter Ryder, Bert Odewahn, Pat McMahon, Bob Tait.  Here again, Jim was the ‘reserve’ umpire.

The man in the middle of these two old umpires at top is Paul Macpherson, Vice President of the History Society and himself a former umpire in the Diamond Valley League, Melbourne.

Work on WWI Players Continues

two-australian-soldiersWork has not stopped in locating footballers who played prior and during WWI in Sydney and subsequently enlisted in the armed forces where they participated in the conflict.

Already several new players have been identified and these have been added to the growing list of those who served.

“Its a relatively easy job adding the players to the list as we come across them”, Society Vice President Paul Macpherson and author of the book, A Game To Be Played, told the committee recently.

“We recorded 200 players in the book and because there is ongoing research into post war football activities in Sydney, more names are popping up weekly.  I think it’s a good thing to document as many of these people as possible” he added.

As time moves on the Society is being contacted by relatives who are providing details of their ancestors who were part of Sydney football during and around the First World War.

Eventually a most comprehensive list will be available that will become an important resource for football and family history enthusiasts.

WWI Book Launched

2015-04-15 Book Launch - crowd 2 thumbnailOver forty people joined together for the launch of the Society’s book on the effect WWI had on Australian Football in Sydney; A Game to be Played.

Speakers included the Society’s president, Ian Granland, author and vice president, Paul Macpherson together with two direct relatives of a first war digger and Sydney footballer, Freddie McGargill.

Mr Macpherson spoke on the depth of research and what it produced.  He told the audience of the problems associated with finding some footballers who had enlisted but because little was known2015-04-15 Book Launch - Paul Macpherson thumbnail of them besides a common surname, not even their first name or an initial, many had to be put aside and could not be included in the eventual list of 200 Sydney footballers identified as serving in the first world war.

He mentioned the tragic case of Bertram (Bert) Watts who not only served in the 1914-18 conflict but was part of the contingent that went to South Africa in the Boer War.

Watts played and captained the Paddington club for a number of seasons between 1903-13 also during this period he captained and represented NSW.  For a year or so around the same time he served on the isolated outpost of Thursday Island but even then was selected to represent Queensland in an interstate clash.

He was very well thought of and respected in the football community of Sydney.  Paddington, the forerunner of the Eastern Suburbs Club, recruited quite a number of soldiers who were either based at Victoria Barracks or the adjoining Engineers Depot at Moore Park.

At his demise, Watts had been promoted to the rank of Lt Colonel and was in the field arranging artillery tactics when a German shell landed on the tent killing him, his medical officer, adjutant and orderly officer.  His wife, to whom he had been married to for a short time, died of heart failure in 1918, shortly after giving birth to a son.  The fate of the boy is unknown.

2015-04-15 Book Launch - Lesley Brydon thumbnailThe launch was performed by Mrs Lesley Brydon and her brother, an ex Eastern Suburbs player, Ian Blackeby.

Also at the event was ABC Radio’s popular host, Ian McNamara of the Sunday show, Australia All Over.  Ian will interview Paul Macpherson after 8:00am this Sunday on air.2015-04-15 Book Launch - crowd 1 thumbnail

Books are now available at $25 each plus postage.  You can make your purchase by clicking the link on the front page of the website and following the instructions.