Ivor Crapp

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Henry 'Ivor' Crapp (1872 – 20 January 1924), was a leading Australian rules football field umpire in the Victorian Football League (VFL) at its formation in the 1890s, and with the West Australian Football League in the early 1900s. Known as VFL's 'Prince of Umpires', he umpired the first ever match in that League.[1]


Crapp started his umpiring career in the Victorian Football Association in 1895; when the newly formed Victorian Football League commenced in 1897, he was appointed to the first match at Corio Oval between Geelong and Essendon.

Crapp was well regarded amongst the players as being a very competent umpire, well able to discern a "stage" for a free kick. He was also proud of the then unusual ability to refer to all players by their names during the course of a match. In 1901, Crapp began the practice of calling the reasons for free kicks and nominating who was to take the kick by name. This innovation was soon adopted generally amongst the umpiring fraternity.

Crapp umpired at a time when the field umpire had to not only control the field play, but also return the ball into play once out of bounds (boundary umpires commenced in 1904 [1]). Furthermore, until 1922, the field umpire also had to return the ball to the centre following the scoring of a goal. Luckily, the overall pace of games was much slower than in the more modern eras, and Crapp maintained a relatively high standard of fitness.

By 1905, his record stood at 147 matches, including 17 finals and 7 Grand Finals (1898–1902 and 1904–05). In addition he umpired Interstate matches in 1899, 1902 and 1905.[1]


In 1906 Crapp was enticed to move to Kalgoorlie, Western Australia on the promise of employment and a contract from the Goldfields Football Association. Crapp found that no job existed for him and departed by train to Perth intending to return to Melbourne.

WAFL officials however managed to intercept Crapp and convince him to umpire the first round in their Perth-based competition. The League quickly offered him a contract having seen the quality of his umpiring. He was outstanding in the WAFL, as he had been in the VFL, and he was appointed to the 1906 finals series and Grand Final. He became the first-choice umpire in the WAFL and he umpired every final until 1914 – a total of 30 in all. Crapp also umpired four West Australian State Premiership matches; in 1906, 1909 and 1913.

Although historically Crapp was considered to have coached East Perth in 1909, it seems that this was unlikely. Records indicate that he also umpired every week that season, including a final in which East Perth played. It seems likely he may have been in some other capacity with the club and that Ben Wallish was the coach [2].

In 1914 he travelled to Sydney as the Western Australian representative umpire at the Australian National Football Council Carnival.

In the WAFL Crapp umpired more than 120 games before his retirement in 1920. His last major appointment (by request of the Victorian association) was to the 1921 Interstate match between Western Australia and Victoria - at the astonishing age of 48.

He died in Western Australia.


Inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996 his citation read:

The VFL's first 'Prince of Umpires'. Moving from the VFA to the newly formed VFL, he officiated in round one, 1897, and retired in 1905 after 147 matches including seven Grand Finals. Moved to Western Australia where he coached East Perth in 1909 then returned to umpiring, adding 120 games and three WAFL grand finals to his senior total before retiring in 1920.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Australian Football Hall of Fame Umpires". Australian Football League. Retrieved 2009-11-16.