Phil Argall came from the South Adelaide Football Club, where he was a premiership player in 1877, and is recorded as representing the Norwood second twenty against North Park at the North Parklands on 6 July 1878. He was one of the founders of the South Australian Football Association, of which he was chairman for several years.
He went on to become a respected Test cricket umpire and patron of sports generally.
Phil was born on 27 March 1855 to William Molesworth Argall and his wife May, née Hosking. He was one of seven children, with brothers William, James and John and sisters Mary, Eliza and Chrissie. He married Marcella O’Connell in Adelaide and they had three children, Philip, John and Marcella.
Phil umpired seven Test matches between Australia and England. His first Test, at Adelaide Oval in January 1902, was a close affair, eventually won by Australia, which successfully chased 314 in the fourth innings, and notable for Clem Hill’s dismissal in the 90s in both innings. Phil was partnered by leading umpire Bob Crocker, who formed a high opinion of him. Phil’s last Test was in Melbourne in February 1908. Australia won comfortably, with Warwick Armstrong scoring a century and Jack Saunders taking nine wickets for the match.
Phil was instrumental in the advance of the South Australian Cricket Association and evinced a particularly keen interest in development of the juniors. He was an umpire in many interstate matches. Incapacitated for work in his trade as a bootmaker for some time, he dropped dead in Hurtle Square, just metres from his home, on 3 April 1912 at the age of 57. He is buried in the West Terrace Cemetery. His Wisden obituary rated him “one of the best of Australian umpires”.
P Robins, D Cox June 2020
See also: Whimpress, B 1878; Norwood’s first year, by B Whimpress, research by M Coligan. Norwood, Norwood Football Club History Group, 2013 p 90