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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Remembering Tom O'Halloran

Tom O'Halloran was a well liked man who dedicated his life to local football and cricket across the Goulburn Valley. January 1942 - June 2012.

ASHLEIGH WILLIAMSON June 21, 2012 2:02pm

The News coverage of Tom and Chris O'Halloran's wedding day on April 4, 1970.


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Tom O’Halloran was a notorious procrastinator and a legendary Goulburn Valley cricket and football umpire.

His wife Chris laughed when thinking about it.

‘‘The kids would ask me for something and I would tell them, ‘Ask your father, but if you want a split second decision, put him in the middle of an oval’,’’ she said yesterday.

Mr O’Halloran, 70, died at his Shepparton home on Monday last week.

He earned life membership at nine different sporting clubs or associations and received several cricket, football, running and umpiring service awards.

Lemnos-SYC Junior Football Club actually awarded him life membership twice — in 1968 and 1973 — after forgetting he had already received the honour.

‘‘He was just a man of no frills,’’ Chris said.

‘‘When his body gave out, he wanted to give something back to the sports he enjoyed.’’

The man

Thomas John O’Halloran was born in January 1942 as the first of two sons Thomas and Nellie raised at Shepparton.

Their Swallow St house was opposite ‘‘Billy Goat Flat’’ (later Victory Park) and Mr O’Halloran learned to kick a football as soon as he could walk.

Mr O’Halloran left North Technical College in Year 10 and was a carpet salesman before moving to Melbourne aged 17 to train to become a Telstra technician.

He later returned to Shepparton and met his future wife, Christine Earl.

‘‘I was a telephonist at the Mooroopna exchange and Tom was a technician who used to fix faults,’’ Chris said.

‘‘There was just a pleasant charisma about him.’’

Tom and Chris married at St Augustine’s Church on April 4, 1970 — the same day SYC won all Cricket Shepparton senior and junior premierships to set an Australian record.

He played in one of those finals until leaving that afternoon for his wedding.

‘‘He stopped the game because the fellas had hidden his car keys,’’ Chris said.

‘‘They just pitched them out on to the road at Central Park and he had everyone looking all over the ground.’’

Coach and player

Chris still remembers the only child who sent them a card after they became engaged.

Mr O’Halloran was the first coach Craig Blizzard had aged 12 for Lemnos-SYC Junior Football Club.

Mr Blizzard said his coach was the first person he knew who became married.

‘‘I thought, ‘The coach is getting married, what do I do mum?’ and she said, ‘Why don’t you send them a card?’, so we did,’’ he said.

‘‘People do lots of things in society today, but they want return.

‘‘Tommy didn’t want anything back. He did it because he loved it and that, to me, is a quality person.’’

Mr O’Halloran was also 12 when he started playing cricket for SYC and football for Lemnos-SYC in 1954.

He coached junior teams after he became too old and progressed to senior cricket for SYC and Goulburn Valley Football League for Lemnos.

The 1979-80 SYC A-grade premiership team consisted of 11 former club juniors who Mr O’Halloran had coached.

Mr O’Halloran won the 1962 Lemnos best-and-fairest during 110 senior games and five cricket premierships during 263 games for SYC.

Geoff Wilson joined Lemnos as coach in 1965 after playing 31 VFL games for Hawthorn from 1958 to 1960.

Mr Wilson said Mr O’Halloran, Darnley Montgomery and Ian Mitchell were his first three players selected every week.

‘‘They were all the same — dour, couldn’t kick, but they knew how to get the footy,’’ Mr Wilson said.

‘‘Tommy was shy, unassuming and well-liked. I could never rev him up.’’

The umpire

Mr O’Halloran started umpiring football in 1969 and cricket in 1983.

He was a Shepparton Runners Club foundation member in 1978.

Chris said her husband often umpired multiple football games in a day.

‘‘There was always a shortage of umpires, but he would have done that even if there had been 2000 umpires,’’ she said.

Cricket Victoria recognised Mr O’Halloran for 50 years of service in 2005, an award Cricket Shepparton legends Bill ‘‘Jasper’’ Jones and Bert Lightfoot also received.

Goulburn Valley Football Umpires Association honoured his 40 years of service in 2009.

The family

Mr O’Halloran and Chris raised four children — Julie, 38, Russell, 35, David, 31, and Phillip (dec).

Their four children have provided four grandchildren.

‘‘We could see the funny side of just about anything,’’ Chris said.

Mr Blizzard said Mr O’Halloran reminded him of fellow Goulburn Valley sporting legends Richie Mann and the late Barry Connolly.

‘‘All different people, but they should live forever,’’ he said.

The funeral for Tom O’Halloran will be held at Sir Ian McLennan Centre at Mooroopna from 11am tomorrow.

For help, phone Lifeline’s 24-hour suicide help line on free-call 131144. Children under 16 can also phone the Kids Help Line on free-call 1800551800.

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