One of Australia’s longest serving and most decorated referees, Bill Mildenhall has dedicated over 40 years to officiating the game of basketball.
Mildenhall played as a junior between Under-12’s and Under-18’s but in 1974, he realised a schoolboy dream of playing in the VFL for St. Kilda.
He went on to play 77 VFL games and was named the club’s Most Improved in 1976 before he began to balance a footy career and a full-time teaching career with an avocation of refereeing in the newly created NBL.
As one of the league’s original officials, Mildenhall juggled the three commitments for three years before injuries and off-season surgery forced him to retire from the VFL in 1982.
In 1990, after an approach Basketball Australia Chairman Dick Butler, Mildenhall gave up his job as a teacher to become Basketball Australia’s referee manager- a position he held for 15 years before moving to Basketball Victoria to hold the same role at a state level.
Quickly building a reputation as one of the NBL’s most respected officials, Mildenhall won a remarkable 16 consecutive NBL Referee of the Year awards from 1988-2003 which remains the record for both the number of awards won as well as consecutive wins.
He also refereed in every Grand Final from 1987 until he retired in 2011 after 32 years in the league.
At the time, Mildenhall was the all-time games record holder with 945 NBL matches officiated and that stood until fellow 2019 Australian Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Ray Hunt surpassed him the following year.
Mildenhall’s long-serving reign was exemplified by the fact his first game saw him referee Robbie Cadee while in his last game, he refereed Robbie’s son, Jason.
While officiating the NBL was Mildenhall’s main pride, he also remained involved as an association level referee.
Obtaining his International Rating in 1979, Mildenhall gained his first significant international appointment in 1987 before going on to attend World Championships and two Olympic Games.
He was selected to referee the gold medal game at the 1990 Women’s World Championships, the bronze medal game of the 1998 men’s World Championships and the women’s bronze medal game for the 2000 Olympics while also officiating the game that included Vince Carter’s famous dunk over Fredrick Weis.
Off the court, Mildenhall was a member of the Australian Sports Commission Officiating Committee for 15 years and is currently a member of the FIBA Technical Commission, replacing the retired Lindsay Gaze in 2010.
His involvement with the FIBA Technical Commission has seen him serve as a referee supervisor at three more World Championships and the London and Rio Olympics while maintaining his position at Basketball Victoria.
Mildenhall was inducted onto the Victorian Basketball Wall of Fame in 2010 and has been awarded the Confederation of Sport Official of the Year (2005), The Victorian Sports Awards Official of the Year (2011) and the Julius L. Patching Sports Official of the Year (2015).
Mildenhall will be inducted alongside seven other icons into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame on May 10.
The 2019 Australian Basketball Hall of Fame Class:
Lauren Jackson AO
Troy Sachs OAM
Lorraine Landon OAM