BFUA History

The Beginning

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 tregedy 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 2000's 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 autonomies.  Umpires apointments, 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 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)

Centenary Book Umpires VFL/AFL

The Ballarat Football Umpires Association has over its hundred years of officiating, been extremely proud of its members over this time who have umpired to a standard where they have been invited to train in Melbourne with the Victorian Football League (VFL) later to become the Australian Football League (AFL) in 1990.

Many BFUA members have gained invaluable experience from training with the 'elite' in umpiring which has benefited not only the individual but out local umpires who had the opportunity to umpire with these individuals when they returned to Ballarat.

Umpires who have been invited to Melbourne over the years have been Tony Bryant, Mervyn Hindson, Phil Waight, Chris Brown, Steve Haintz, Robert McCahon, Ian Bedford, Vin Counsel, Jamie Love, Shane McInerney, Doug Perry, Chris Steinman, Dave Pinder, Ashley Bromley-Paizis, Julian Allan, Steven Trotter, Jason Kennedy, Mick Brennan, Roland Caple, Brent Irvin, James Robinson, Michael Palm, Aaron Tucker, Jarrod Waight, Ash Bedford, Tyson Venn, Brandon Kenny.

The BFUA has also benefitted from umpires coming to our great association after they had umpired in various VFL/AFL squads.  These umpires also brough valuable experience and knowledge to our members, Roger LeGrand, Davin Reid, Cameron Robertson.

Our members who went on to represent the BFUA at the highest level being VFL/AFL senior football to date have been Ian Bedford, Jamie Love, Shane McInerney, Doug Perry, Chris Steinman and Michael Palm.  This is a list the BFUA hopes to continue to increase.

The above information has been taken from the Ballarat Football Umpires Associations, "Celebrating 100 years of umpiring 1913 - 2013" book.  These are for sale and can be purchased through the BFUA.

The BFUA has certainly had an interesting journey, from its humble beginning when half a dozen men had the foresight to set up a band of men to adjudicate in the emerging game called Australian Rules Football.  How were they to know that from this small beginning that would 100 plus years later represent one of the largest and most respected group of Umpires in Country Victoria.

Shane McInerney



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The Ballarat Football Umpires Association is one of Australia's largest football umpiring groups having been established in 1913.

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