Hall of Fame: George Wallace

George Wallace

Born in 1926, George Wallace served in the British army in the 1940s and again in the 1960s rising to become chief clerk to the Chief of Staff of the United Kingdom defence forces during the latter period. On his first encounter with Australia, he accompanied Denis Healey, the Minister of Defence, to Canberra on behalf the United Kingdom government. Retiring as a senior non-commissioned officer in 1969 he came to Australia in 1970.

George Wallace
George Wallace, VSF President.

While in services he had played football but found very soon that his talents lay elsewhere and he became a referee where his discipline and a stentorian voice quickly helped him establish control. He took courses in refereeing and inspecting at Loughborough College and rose to the top of his other profession, refereeing international matches in Nigeria and becoming secretary or president of the refereeing bodies of which he was a member. So he was a highly experienced administrator with a deep knowledge of the game when he arrived in Victoria and, after working with Nylex, within a year was appointed Secretary of the Victorian Soccer Federation (VSF) in 1971. He remained as secretary and later Chief Executive Officer of the VSF until 1991.

Sam Papasavas, George Wallace, Theo Marmaras and John Dimtsis
Sam Papasavas, George Wallace, Theo Marmaras and John Dimtsis.

He very quickly put his stamp on the Federation working with a series of Presidents to develop the game in Victoria and Australia. Sir David Hill-Wood, of the famous Arsenal family, Commander Michael Parker, former equerry to the Queen, were succeeded by Theo Marmaras and John Dimtsis, while Michael Weinstein was chairman of the Federation from 1973 to 1986.

In many ways George Wallace was ahead of his time. He wanted professional referees in the 1970s. He fought to reduce the unwieldy club-dominated Board and State League Management Committees to smaller more efficient bodies. In particular the game needed to have a commission of independent persons to oversee the development of the code.

George Wallace
George Wallace, a pivotal administrator across almost four decades.

He became President of the Federation in 1994 and remained in office for a decade. From 1997 to 1999 Jeff Kennett served as Honorary Executive President, but it was George who did the hard work behind the scenes to keep the Federation going. He was not happy as a public speaker preferring to let his deeds rather than his words speak for him. He had broad shoulders and could take and deflect a lot of the criticism which came his way, and held the disparate interests of the game together during a period of considerable change. He had a ferocious honesty and sense of fair play and would not countenance anything which was not done with defensible due process.

Wallace was inducted into the Roll of Honour of the Football Australia Hall of Fame in 2001.

Wallace was a Life Member of Football Federation Victoria and Football Federation Australia until his passing in January 2011.