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October 3, 1991: Wilbur scores Deakin record

July 06, 2017

Wilbur Shillington has always known the score.

From 1935-41 and from 1957 onwards he had been the Deakin Reserve's scoreboard attendant.

Known just as Wilbur by football followers, the 72-year-old has outlasted five scoreboards at the reserve - with the present board being named after him.

Since 1957 he has kept the scores for every grand final, except for the 1966 final.

That year Shepparton and Lemons played in Tatura instead of the Deakin Reserve.

And last Sunday the crowd at the 1991 GVL grand final relied on Wilbur as usual to keep them up to date as the game reached exciting climax.

Interestingly, the numbers which were used on the scoreboard on Sunday are the same ones Wilbur used in 1934.

He said Sunday's match had been ones of the closer grand finals he had witnessed during his 34 year involvement.

"Most grand finals have been a training run for the side that has won," he said.

"But Sunday's was a good tussle, although I don't think many of the players who played in those teams would have fitted into the finals sides of the past."

Wilbur still remembers vividly his first grand final in 1957.

"It was between Shepparton and Tatura and Shepparton won by two points, 5.6 to 5.5," he said.

Wilbur said he became a scoreboard attendant because in 1934 there were no seconds or thirds competitions, and this meant that if he failed to earn a guernsey in the Shepparton firsts he was left with nothing to do.

"Being the attendant gave me the chance to play a part in the game," he said.

The intervention of World War II in 1941 resulted in the GV competition being disbanded, and it was not until 1957 that Wilbur eventually returned to the scoreboard.

He has received a certificate of merit from the GVL and is a Life Member at the Shepparton Football Club.

He is also a Life Member of the Shepparton Cricket Association and the Shepparton Cricket Umpires' Association.

Wilbur was a cricket umpire for 39 years - hanging up his floppy white hat two years ago.

During his 42-year involvement with football he was watched the development of football in the Goulburn Valley.

He said the best footballers he had seen were Kyabram's Eric James, who won two Morrish Medals, and former Shepparton playing coach, Billy Sykes.

He believes that too many clubs in the Goulburn Valley spend money on recruiting instead of developing their juniors.

With this in mind he has tipped this year's ninth placed team Shepparton to be the one to watch next year.

"Shepparton introduced a lot of juniors this year and started to play well towards the end of the season," he said.

As for Wilbur he will be there again next year, it just wouldn't be the same without him.

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