Herald Sun | FIFTY long years since he first started patrolling the boundary line at the South Warrnambool Football Club, seasoned umpire John De Grandi is still at it.
Every weekend during footy season, the dedicated volunteer is on the sidelines of under-18 and reserves matches, casting a learned eye over every possession.
“I started in 1967 and never stopped,” he said.
First a junior player, he soon switched to umpiring and never looked back.
Now 62, the pace of the game has gotten the better of his weary legs, but he still serves as a goal umpire.
He missed just one season for a successful battle against cancer and is now just 93 games from his 1000-match milestone.
South Warrnambool Football Club will today host the Herald Sun Foxtel Full-On Footy Tour, where Mr De Grandi will be named the club’s Local Legend.
The Herald Sun’s Jon Anderson and Glenn McFarlane and Fox Footy’s Ben Dixon and Brian Lake will be at the family fun day today and discussion panel at the clubrooms tonight.
Mr De Grandi said it was his love for local footy which brought him back, as well as the support after the siren.
“I have made a lot of friends, the players and supporters and other officials, it’s a great family to be a part of,” he said.
But he does still cop a serve after the odd decision.
“I don’t let it worry me at all,” he said. “You can only give the decision from what you see.”