In the course of compiling a history of the results of senior men's football competitions in Victoria (for draft click here) I've also started a few files for other relevant information. One such file is a list of the bodies and committees governing of the game in this state, which can be found here:
From early newspaper reports I have included the names of any people awarded life membership of any such body. In later years the Victorian Soccer Federation Yearbooks contained a current list of life members, and I have included any people added each year since the initial list published in 1968. When I say current, I mean the Yearbook lists those able to enjoy the privileges of life membership i.e. those still alive. Names do drop off the Yearbook lists, and I'm assuming that's because those that have passed away no longer being included rather than people having been stripped of the honour.
Obviously life memberships of the VSF were often awarded to those that had worked in the service of the organisation. Which is totally understandable, but leads to an imbalance. The VSF may have run the game, but they did not own it. It would have been nice if a few more people from outside the organisation were awarded life membership in honour of their service to the sport.
We know the AFL automatically confers life membership on those that have played or coached a combined 300 games. This has avoided what happened with VSF life membership, which is top heavy in VSF officials and light on for players, coaches, referees and those who's work as officials was restricted to club duties as opposed to being involved in VSF politics.
It's a shame more of these people weren't given life membership. It's a massive oversight that all Victorian-based members of the 1974 World Cup Finals Socceroos squad were not instantly given membership (sure Peter Ollerton would had to have had his stripped after he assaulted referee Jim Fearn). The likes of Billy Vojtek and Jimmy Armstrong should surely have been included. Referees like Eugene Brazzale, Gerry Connolly or Dennis Voutsinas too.
This week, the Football Federation Victoria called upon nominations for life memberships for new inductions to be made at the upcoming Annual General Meeting. Whilst honouring people for their efforts is good, restoring the honour to previous life members would be better. There is no list of those awarded life memberships on the FFV website. Is their any prestige to an award where one can be forgotten about so quickly? It seems like a lack of respect to me.
Has the FFV Hall of Fame overshadowed those that have received life membership? Hall of Fame inductees get a mention on the FFV website, whilst the names the life members must rest in an unmarked grave somewhere.
Would it be too difficult for the FFV to add a page to their site to truly honour their life members? The names, dates of birth (and death for those that have passed) of recipients and perhaps a brief line describing what the did for the game should not be too hard to muster. If anyone actually cared, that is.
Until the memory of former life members are given due recognition, should we consider present inductees as being put through an exercise in lip service and a token effort at thanking them for their services? If the FFV is genuine in respecting these people, it needs to do more.