It is with great sadness that The SANFL Umpires Association advise of the passing of Life Member Mr. Kenneth Potts. Ken was 86 years of age.
Ken started umpiring in 1960 at the age of 26 and at the time of his death he was still actively involved as a trainer/massage consultant. Ken’s commitment spanned almost 60 years. He actively ran as a boundary umpire for 16 years, was then a goal umpire for 12 years, 6 years as an observer, many years as a trainer, and some years as a massage consultant. He also umpired mid-week as a field umpire whenever asked. He was treasurer of the SANFL Umpires Association for an impressive combined 19 years over two stints.
At the commencement of his career, Ken only took 5 weeks to get his first league game, such was his running capacity and common sense. In his second year (1961) Ken umpired the SANFL League Grand Final with Billy Neil on the Boundary and Lawrie Sweeney in the Field. That memorable day, the maximum temperature reached around 37 degrees. 41,000 people attended to see what was to be known as the Turkish Bath Grand Final between the winning Kerley’s West and Killagrew’s Norwood. Many players suffered from dehydration, with Neil Kerley losing 3kg and later becoming violently ill on TV that evening. Lawrie Sweeney would not, as was the policy at the time, permit trainers on to the ground to provide water to dehydrated players and of course there were no interchange opportunities and only 20 players per team.
Ken went down with dehydration at three quarter time, because there were no umpires trainers and no available water at all during the game and unfortunately Ken had to be replaced by another umpire. Ken never got another grand final as a result of that failure, as the selection panel would never entrust a game to somebody who failed. Ken once in an interview commented “That’s just the way it was in the 60’s”. He received 3 pound 15 shillings for that Grand Final in 1961. That’s around $6.30.
Ken made quite an impact elsewhere in the umpiring world. He started the Mini League with Lyall Phillips (who also passed away this month), with 16 initial teams playing, behind the Payneham Council chambers under North/Norwood Football League.
Ken was also a national service conscript in 1951. He served 25 years as a member of Probus, 12 of them as the treasurer. He’s been the treasurer of the Adelaide Music Club for 25 years. He is also a Life Member of the South Australian Pro Runners Association and was their treasurer for at least 10 years.
Ken’s 60 years of commitment to SANFLUA is an impressive record and the Association and football in SA is indebted to him for his contribution. Many an umpire in this state will remember Ken warmly. From all SANFLUA Members and Life Members, we pass on our condolences to Ken’s Family and Friends during this difficult time.
As a mark of respect for Ken, all Umpires will wear Black Armbands during the SANFL League and Reserves Grand Finals.
Details of Ken’s funeral will be communicated once known.
Life Members Representative