175 for VFL’s fastest

curtis-michael1 R6Michael Curtis, the only thing higher than his VFL senior games tally is the amount of kids he has.

Coming in from Noble Park, Michael started umpiring in the Dandenong juniors and Eastern Footy League as a way to stay involved post-football career. In 2009 Michael made his way to the VFL, where he spent a year on the development list before being promoted to the senior squad for the 2010 season.

Entering his 11th season at the Project Centre, I had the chance to chat with Michael about the high and lows of his career so far.

“For me the career high and lows have come from similar experiences. Out of my 11 years, I’ve been time trial champion 9 times, that’s one of my proudest achievements. Of course, time trials aren’t that fun when you lose, which I have on two occasions, so that’s probably the career low for me.”

Michael has done it all over the journey. Richmond v. Box Hill was his 175th VFL senior game, including a tally of 11 senior finals having umpired in the 2014, 2015 and 2018 VFL Preliminary Finals. Along with the 175, Curto has umpired 19 VFL Reserves matches including 2 grand finals, 23 TAC cup games which includes 3 grand finals and 4 AFLW matches, a sensational record for a very respected man. In 2010, Michael was awarded the most improved senior field umpire. He then went on to be awarded the 2013 VFL Umpire of the Year, and was an AFL rookie in 2015, a fairly impressive resume for any umpire.

Not only do we love Curto for his on field success and all-round good bloke charisma, the responsibilities he has taken on off the field stacks up very nicely against his on field work. From 2016 through to 2018, Curto did an outstanding job as the VFUA president, sacrificing many countless hours in order to get the best outcomes for his fellow umpires, a true team player. He was to be rewarded for his service by being inducted as a life member of the VFUA in 2018 and will go on to receive VFL life membership.

“I’ve been pretty lucky to experience plenty of good memories over the journey. Some of the best highlights are just training or running with mates in general week in week out. And the life skills you learn at umpiring are second to none. Some of the stand outs would be umpiring any of the grand finals, my first TV game, the annual mad Monday and of course, the after match feeds!”

“I do remember one day when umpiring juniors at Upper Beaconsfield, snow started to tumble during the game. I think I can still feel the cold to this day!”

At the end of it all, Curto will not only be remembered for all he has done on and off the field for the VFL and VFUA, but he will be remembered by his peers and coaches as one of the nicest blokes going around. It has been a pleasure to umpire with Curto on a few occasions, as everybody has found it.

From everybody at the VFUA, we wish the fastest man in the VFL all the very best. A deserving milestone that truly reflects everything you have done for the game.

Photo: Rob Geise

2019 Paul Anderson Mini-Olympics

IMGP9728aAs per tradition, the annual Paul Anderson Mini-Olympics took place once again in 2019. An event that has been running for more than 15 years. The event took place on what would usually be a gruelling pre-season Thursday, normally filled with strenuous running reps, but instead the 21st of February was filled with compassion. On the flip side, the night was not without competition. Six squads clashed head to head as development and senior boundary, goal and field umpires fought it out for the overall victory.

Participants in the first few events were thrown straight into the fire. Quoits inside the fieldies locker room. Two team members from different groups took to the carpet, surrounded by umpires from all disciplines. Greta Miller looked to defend her title as most outstanding quoits player in 2018 and did so by defeating stalwart Tom Chrystie (T-rip) in a sudden death battle. Tunnel ball followed and was a bit more forgiving for those involved as participants were able to work in teams. A high standard of tunnel balling was displayed by all teams that weren’t called development field, who finished woefully in last place.

IMGP9699 (2)The lush green surface of Victoria Park opened up to us at 6.30 and it wasn’t long until members of the 4x200m team were trampling it. Another year of controversy clouded the event as the handicapping system was once again off the mark. However, this did not stop Brenton Dickson from bringing home the win for development boundary – although we still aren’t sure if he has located the correct finish line yet. Senior boundary was up in arms as they fiercely debated the integrity of the event, but there were no complaints from the development goalies who forgot how many athletes are required in the 4x200m race.

Soccer, also known as the participation sport, was up next. Masses of players took to the pitches and hacked away at a foreign circular object. All umpiring prowess went out the window as legs were chopped, bodies bumped and rules bended. Lachlan Higgs secured the win for development boundary in their first game. Not with a goal, but with an unsportsmanlike boot that sent the ball sailing out of bounds, taking any remaining time with it. A matchup between development and senior field ended in controversy, with Matt Young’s senior team coming out on top. However, allegations of extra players on the field clouded the victory.

The pressure once again mounted as teams gathered to show off their ‘bouncing’ and ‘throw-in’ abilities, a nervous occasion for those who perform such acts on a day to day basis. For the others, it was an opportunity to show the pros up, and show them up they did. Senior boundary umpire Travis Taylor snatched the win away from the fieldies with an excellent bounce that achieved him maximum points. Unfortunately for goal umpire Jackson Griffiths, his bouncing ability did not match up to his ability to don some impressive glasses.
IMGP9726 (2)
The goal-kicking competition was more relaxed this year, expect for invite for trial Darcy Trewarn who talked himself up big time before his attempts at the big sticks. Although he was not victorious, rumours of the overall victor were spreading, with development boundary looking like the runaway favourites. The result was confirmed and development boundary secured the win for the 2019 2019 Paul Anderson Mini-Olympics (Insert ‘The Bev Show’ quote here).

Following the events, it was great to see everyone grab a snag and come together in memory of Paul Anderson, a VFL umpire who lost his battle with cancer in 2001. The night raised over $1665 for the Cancer Council.

A thank you must now go out to the VFUA executive team for organising the event, as well as to AFL Victoria who have supported this event from the very beginning – happily helping out with set-up, BBQ and allowing us to have a training night to stage the event. See you all next year!

President Turtle reaches 175

talbot-andrew1The human turtle, the PWS power ranger, the PE teacher, the current VFUA president. These are just some of the many identities by which Andrew Talbot goes.

Coming from the Diamond Valley Football League, Andrew joined the VFL in 2008, but not without his challenges. In 2006, Andrew was kicked off the track after the first training session of the year! After re-trialing in 2007, Andrew broke his foot in the pre-season and was forced onto the supplementary list. And then finally in 2008, Andrew trialed again, and as they say, third time lucky! Fair to say, Andrew never looked back, gained a spot on the development list and was then promoted to the senior list in 2009.

Entering his 11th season as a VFL senior umpire, Andrew has accomplished many things in umpiring. From his first senior game, Box Hill v Northern, to the infamous successful ‘head count’ when Frankston had 19 on the ground and their score wiped. That was almost as good as having his fifth senior match delayed due to a helicopter landing on the field during the reserves. But when speaking to Andrew about what he thinks of his own career highlights, he said, “One of my highlights involves sending an under 11 kid off for flashing his opponent at a set shot.”

“I also got the chance to umpire an AFL match as a rookie after coming on 5 minutes into the second quarter. Round 3, 2014, North Melbourne v Port Adelaide. I couldn’t hear my match com the crowd was that loud, it was surreal.”

“Along with the 2018 VFL Grand Final the 2009 TAC Cup and 2017 AFLV Development League Grand Finals are obviously some of my most cherished moments.”

It’s the 27 March, 2018. It’s list announcement night, and Andrew has unsuspectedly been chosen to don the number 1 guernsey for the 2018 season. With the previous season’s number 1 having umpired the grand final and collected umpire of the year, the responsibility and expectations that came with wearing the number might have overwhelmed some. For others it might be a challenge, a motivator if you will.

It seemed that throughout 2018, Andrew had decided to choose the latter. In what seemed to be a flawless display of umpiring consistency throughout the 2018 season, Andrew had embraced all challenges and had his best season to date.

Hardly putting a foot wrong all year Andrew was rightfully chosen to umpire his first VFL senior grand final, collecting the umpire of the year award along the way too. Some have even said that his 2018 campaign as the number 1 was the best they had seen in recent times. They say a week is a long time in football, and what must have felt like an eternity to Andrew was the grand final week, from being named umpire of the year and being appointed to his first VFL grand final, Andrew was brought back down to earth having started the grand final with a recalled bounce, not your finest moment, Mr. Talbot.

Apart from umpiring, you may see Andrew post about a PWS power ranger, which is his alter ego. Andrew’s work as the PWS power ranger is about raising awareness for Prader-Willi syndrome with which his good friend Jamie Grindal’s daughter was diagnosed. Whether it be attending a PWS fund raiser in Sale, or running a full marathon in his orange morph suit, there’s not too many people out there with the kindness and generosity to give up their time for others like Andrew.

What separates Andrew from a lot of others is his willingness to give up his time for the greater good of umpiring. Andrew is heavily involved with the rookie squad when they train at the VFL, along with always being a leading voice around the group and assisting his fellow umpires with questions they may have. Nothing is ever too much for Talbot, which makes him one of the most deserving blokes to receive VFL life membership.

From all of us at the VFUA, congratulations on reaching the fantastic milestone, a true reflection of a great career. Umpires_R15 (1)

Cal’s Hundred

cal 2In a year of multiple milestones for VFUA members, another one was achieved on Saturday night when senior goal umpire, Callum Leonard, brang up the ton when he officiated the Geelong v Essendon clash at GMHBA Stadium. Starting with the VFL in 2011 out of the Ballarat Umpires Association, Callum worked incredibly hard to get where he is today. When Cal started down at the VFL, he had serious issues with his weight and fitness. Whilst the on field ability was definitely prevalent, without attention being paid to these issues, Cal’s career could’ve ended before it began. However, with a lot of effort and hard work (and little fanfare), Cal has worked extremely hard to get himself fit and to be a positive example for younger umpires.

Callum has had his share of success over the journey after doing his 1st senior game, North Ballarat v Casey Scorpions in 2013. He has been involved in senior finals in both 2015 and 2017, and it was in these two seasons that he was appointed to the AFL Vic Development League Grand Final. When pressed on the most memorable moment of his career, Cal explained that the Grand Finals would definitely be. “Yeah, those Grand Finals would definitely have to be the top moments of my career. Especially the 2015 one as it went it to Golden Point, and with it being my 1st State League Grand Final, it was a great experience.” Cal was also appointed as the emergency to the AFLW decider this year which was also another feather in the cap for the big chested individual from Ballarat.

calWhilst a hard worker and solid example for the younger members of the squad, you won’t find a better sh*t stirrer than C. Leonard. He has had many favourite targets over the years, with Cyrus Wong, Ash Crawford, and Matt Richardt being some of the favourite targets of his constant jibes and prodding. But when asked for the person he has enjoyed annoying the most, he said it would have to be his partner on Saturday night, Chris Doyle. “I love getting stuck into Doyle, mainly because it’s so bloody easy. One little comment in his direction will draw that surly little stare he does or an offensive gesture, or some idle threat which normally makes no sense anyways. I always get a bite from him no matter what.” When asked about being appointed for his big achievement with his regular victim, Leonard replied, “I asked Brad to appoint me with anybody else but Doyle, but alas, I’m doing the game with him. Oh well, at least I’ll get to enjoy the night giving Doyle crap!”

Congratulations on getting to this milestone Callum. A great achievement and hopefully a portent of future success to come in your career!

Just a Country Kid Making His Way in the Big Smoke


As Daniel Butcher walked onto North Port oval on the weekend for the blockbuster clash between Port Melbourne and Williamstown, he held the ball aloft for the 100th time at VFL Senior level. It is a far cry from running around the Heathcote League where it all started for Daniel.

Persuaded into umpiring for some extra pocket money, he began umpiring junior district matches as a member of the Rochester-Echuca Umpires Association. He would work his way through the junior ranks and his first senior match came calling in the Heathcote Football League at the ripe age of 16.

At the end of the 2010 season, Daniel was nominated to trial at the VFL in Melbourne. The kid from Lockington would travel down to Victoria Park to chase the dream. After a well-planned trip to Singapore, much to the distain of Kevin Mitchell in his trial period, Daniel was successful in gaining a spot on the VFL Development panel for 2011. He hit the ground running and soon found himself promoted to the Senior List at the beginning of the 2013 season.

In the world of umpiring there are a lot of key moments that can define careers on whether you make it or you don’t. Daniel’s came at the end of the 2014 season in a year in which he umpired the TAC Grand Final. He missed out on a senior final and he could have gone two ways with his attitude. He chose to work hard over the Summer under the close guidance of Kym Brockhoff and come back and have a break-out season. “To miss out on the finals was disappointing but it gave me the drive to come back fitter and more determined than ever.” He certainly ticked those boxes and had a stellar year, achieving the ultimate goal at VFL level of umpiring the 2015 VFL Grand Final between Williamstown and Box Hill as well as being named umpire of the year.

His success was rewarded with an AFL Rookie promotion at the end of the year where he spent the next two seasons attending training and sitting on the bench at AFL matches to improve his umpiring skills. The results of that experience speak for themselves as Daniel went onto umpire the 2016 and 2017 VFL Grand Finals- 3 in a row! A feat that has only been done once before.

Daniel shares his success so far with the people that are closest to him- his family. “They have played a huge part in where I am today and without their support I wouldn’t have achieved anything like this” he says. His father, Ron, Mother, Dianne and siblings Briony, Matthew and Jacelle have been there every step of the way. There is no doubt you will hear a “hey bore” from the sidelines this week as Daniel completes his warm up.

Throughout his whole umpiring successes, he has remained as humble as the day he left Lockington. He is a great role model for younger umpires and is often seen watching them in his spare time to provide them with the feedback needed to progress their umpiring in the way he has. He has given his time to the VFUA association serving as Vice-President and President in 2014 and 2015 respectively to which he has fittingly been awarded Life-Membership.

On behalf of the VFUA and all the umpires that have had the privilege to umpire with you over the journey, congratulations on the 100 games; it is a great achievement and a testament to your application you have shown over the journey!

Rob Young Notches Up Ton

youngA few weeks ago, our good mate Rob Young umpired his 100th VFL match. When we look back over his career to date, we see Rob as a great bloke on and off the field who has a big amount of talent.

Rob made it to the VFL in 2009. In his first year at the VFL he impressed many and after only a year, he was promoted to the Senior Field Umpire Squad. In only his second year on the list he went on to umpire the TAC Cup GF.

Rob has also shown great resilience and strength through the numerous injury challenges thrown his way. The most significant was when Rob broke his leg in a game in 2014. It took over 18 months of physiotherapy, dedication and courage but his hard work paid off making a come back and again umpiring at the Senior VFL level. In the same year he returned, he went on to umpire the VFL Reserves Grand Final.

When we think of Rob and look back on his career to date, we think of a massively talented umpire, who has shown true resilience and courage to get back to such a great level of umpiring.

A great achievement reaching 100 games; it is a testament to this legend of a bloke being such a great umpire but an even better bloke.

Congrats from all of us on this great achievement legend!

Life Membership for ‘Burgo’

burgess-tristan3 R10For just the 10th time in VFA/VFL history, and 3rd time for a field umpire, a VFUA member will officiate for the 175th time and qualify for automatic VFL Life Membership. In the lead up to this significant milestone, the VFUA sat down with Tristan Burgess to talk about the journey to this point.

VFUA:   You debuted in VFL Seniors in 2007, correct?

Tristan Burgess: It was Williamstown vs Geelong. I umpired with Andrew Mitchell and Brett Ritchie and it was first v second in round 12. I don’t remember much of that game, but my second game was Box Hill v Port Melbourne. I paid a horrendous advantage, back when we had to call advantage, and Box Hill kicked a goal from it. The Port players, who were much taller than me (they still are) gave me nothing but abuse. Deservedly so because it was the last senior game I did that year!

V: Haha! So you’ve now racked up 174 games, including 15 finals…

TB: I thought 14?

V: VFUA stats says 15. 2 Grand Finals in 2012 and 2015, 3 consecutive TAC Grand Finals from 2007 to 09 and 30 AFL games from 2012 to 2014. For the VFUA, you were Track Rep in 2008 and 09, Vice-President in 2010, 11 and again this year, John Russo Trophy in 2011 and Life Member since 2013. Impressive list of achievements. What memories stand out?

TB: When Gold Coast were playing in the VFL, they played in Ballarat. It was less than 5 degrees, raining and at half time, we had hot chocolate to keep warm. Just before the third quarter, when Gold Coast returned to the field, they had no jackets and paused at the top of race and just looked at the conditions and didn’t want to come back out! That was hilarious.

The best game I’ve been involved in was the 2011 Semi-Final between Port Melbourne and Box Hill. It was 128 to 124. Both teams kicked 19 goals, plus we had centre bounces and field bounces back then. Physically, it was a brutal game for us, but it was pure hard finals footy.

V: What is it about umpiring that’s kept you in the game this long?burgess-tristan1

TB: After experiencing the highest level of our game, I feel as though I still had more to give. I wanted to come back and help the next crop and younger generations on their way to potentially making the AFL.

V: How did you get into the world of umpiring?

As a youngster, I played under a former Carlton player as an elite backman. But one night, my cousin was playing for Sandhurst in Maryborough in a night series and the club president asked if I would boundary umpire for some coin. As a 15 year old, any money was like gold. I then joined the Bendigo Umpires during the season as a Boundary in 2000. I umpired as both field and boundary in different games. I was appointed to the 2003 BFL Grand Final as a boundary umpire. In 2004 I made my BFL Senior debut as a field umpire in a game where Mick McGuane was one of the coaches. He wished me well for my career. I umpired 7 BFL games before doing the 2004 BFL Grand Final as a field umpire; the youngest to do so at the time! For the next two years, my folks drove me down to Melbourne for training and games, with some help from the late Anthony Hunter.

V: You started a long time ago – what’s changed in umpiring over your time?

While I was on the Development Squad, the Senior Field ran 2-umpire system still. We used to train in a little room behind the goals at Victoria Park and Kevin Mitchell would show vision using the old VHS technology.

I’ve worn white, orange and green uniforms. I only got to wear white prior to 2005 as a regional boundary umpire for TAC Cup games. Training used to be nothing but running. Now we have skills and match simulation. The time trials used to be 4km and 5x1km efforts with 6 minutes recovery between each k. The time trials used to be held mid-season in the wet.

The track used for the time trials was a 1km loop that was sheltered from the coaches on one side. Troy McCarthy and Ritchie would always take off at the start. T-Mac would cut about 50m off the course and we would just follow. When we did time trials at the athletics track, T-Mac would cut in front of the steeple chase pool to get ahead of the group on the final straight where the coaches would wait at the finish line.

We also used to do the Beep Test on asphalt surfaces at Carey Grammar, and even one year, it was held under the Sherrin Stand!

burgess-tristan3 - CopyV: As one of the older statesman’s in umpiring, you’d be looked up to by the younger umpires. Who did you look up in your younger days?

I looked up to Troy Pannel (when he returned from Sydney) and Rob Findlay. They were the older umpires in the group who were experienced, but they were also just good quality people. They were willing to give time and effort to help others and were respectful when giving feedback. You can see that it’s paid off for them with the AFL careers they are having.

Also guys like Jacob Mollison, Ritchie and Mitchell because we were going through the system together. We all had very different personalities, but together we made a good group of people.

V: Game 175 this week. Footscray v North Melbourne under the roof at Etihad. What does this game mean to you?

It means I’ve achieved so much. It’s a privilege to do one VFL game, but to do 175 is an honour. It can’t be taken for granted when people have missed out in the past. It’s all due to the umpires you run with. It’s not an individual sport; we need our teamamtes. Even though we compete against each other, we all need to have a good day on the field. If one doesn’t, it affects the others. It all comes down to mateship. We’ll be mates with these guys for life.

V: Who would you like to thank from throughout your journey?

My mum and dad, Brendan and leonie. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am. They’ve made so many sacrifices, and not just through my years umpiring, but throughout my whole life. Family are the ones who go through the ups and downs with you. They are the people to thank.

V: From everyone at the VFUA, it’s been a pleasure to have been a part of the journey at some point, and we all hope you have an absolute blast on Saturday as you take the field for the 175th time.

Congratulations, Tristan Burgess!burgess-tristan2 R1

On the Couch with Thomas Chrystie – James Davey’s 100th Game

James Davey is umpiring his 100th game on Saturday Northern Blues v Essendon, James is a high achieving leader on the senior squad and has been a valued senior umpire for the past six years. James took the time during the week to sit down with his life coach, best friend and confidant to discuss his excitement for this weekend.

daveyTom – James, a lot of good memories, any highlights?
James – Yeah the state game last year was certainly a highlight, I felt comfortable umpiring at that level and really enjoyed it.
Tom – Last year was a good year for you then James?
James – You always strive for that VFL grand final I fell short last year but in umpiring you have to take the positives, and as you are well aware I am a glass half full person so hopefully there are more opportunities out there.
Tom – Any regrets?
James – Yeah going to New York with you for preseason, first of all you made me blow out my skinnies and you would have to be the single worst bloke in the world to travel with.
Tom – Bit rough, I wasn’t the one slapping down a triple cheeseburger per day?
James – Good point, no regrets.
Tom – James congratulations on your achievement this week, are you looking forward to the game?
James – Yeah, it has never really been a focus of mine to achieve this specific number. But certainly looking forward to going out on the weekend and carrying Ben and Michael. I guess over the last 99 games you will find me punching out 5-6 minute mid zone stints without a care in the world or an error, so I can’t imagine much changing this weekend.
Tom – Yeah right, so you back yourself then?
James – Well honestly I bounce darts, I am fast, the players respect me and historically I am less than one fk error a game.
Tom – Well as you say to every umpire before you umpire with them James – “Don’t be shit”! Good luck and thank you for joining me on the couch.

Century for Doyle

This week the VFUA has the pleasure of sitting down with long serving goal umpire Chris Doyle ahead of his 100th VFL game at Victoria Park. Doyle commenced his career with the VFL in 2006 after doing his apprenticeship at the VAFAUA (Amateurs). Initially the interview with Doyle was going to be “60 seconds with Doyle” but this wouldn’t leave anytime to talk about anything else but his careers stats. Doyle’s stats speak for themselves showing his dedication, tenacity, commitment and passion for goal umpiring.
Current stats:
VFL Senior Games: 99
VFL Reserves Games: 97 (2nd most ever), including 1 Grand Final
TAC Games: 78 (3rd most ever), including 2 TAC Cup Grand Finals
As Doyle reaches 100 senior matches on Sunday he joins an elite club to have umpired 100 senior games including the likes of Balding, Piperno, James, Kyrkou and Nastasi. doyle

So Doyle, I’m guessing you picked the top of the table clash between Collingwood and Richmond because you wanted a good match for the milestone?
Is it 1 v 2? I picked that match because I live next to Vic Park and didn’t want to travel too far to get there. Guess it might be a good match.
So after 12 years at the VFL what keeps you coming back each year?
I really just enjoy football. If I wasn’t umpiring, I would be just watching it so might as well get paid to watch it. Plus I’ve enjoyed the friendship, comradery and banter every week at training.
Who has been the biggest influence?
There have been a number of umpires that have helped me develop my goal umpiring including my coaches and umpires but currently AFL goal umpires Michael Palm and Steve Piperno have been supportive of me and are good friends outside umpiring.
Who did you select to umpire the milestone with?
I keep telling everyone that I didn’t choose anyone but secretively I picked Callum Leonard. Since commencing on the senior list the same year we have had a lot of banter on and off the track, with some people probably thinking it’s serious. I guess the cream rises to the top and I’ve achieved 100 games before him, so I now have one up on him.
What next in the life of Chris Doyle?
I’m not sure how many more years I have left in the body as I’m getting close to 40 but I’ll continue to score cricket in the summer and might move into a coaching role, which I have started doing at grassroots recently. With Brad Letson 2nd child on the way I might just step straight into the main gig next year.

Congratulations on achieving 100 VFL senior games Doyle. Not an achievement that many umpires reach. A feather in the cap for whatever the future holds. Go well and enjoy the match.

Edwards Notches Up 100 Games

Jack Notches Up 100 Games edwards 2

NORTHERN Football League was where it all started for Jack Edwards at age twelve where his father, Craig, was already umpiring and took Jack to training to get involved. Not because Craig thought Jack would be a great umpire like himself, but more because young Jack enjoyed eating to many cheeseburgers. To Craig’s surprise, Jack exceeded expectations and developed a love for umpiring and in particular, enjoyed seeing close family friend, Darren Goldspink, umpire.

In 2010, Jack made the trek into Victoria Park from Diamond Creek where he successfully made it onto the VFL Development Squad. After two years on the dev squad, former Director of Umpiring, Kevin Mitchell, gave him the ultimatum, come back fit or your times up.

That suggestion from Kevin was enough for Jack, who proved himself in the 2012 preseason and secured himself the number 29 on his back for the next three seasons. During this time, Jack umpired three consecutive Grand Finals in the 2012 TAC, 2013 Reserve and 2014 VFL Grand Final’s respectively which gave him the chance to be invited to an AFL Umpiring trial process after just 55 VFL Senior games.

At 2014’s end, the AFL changed the concept of the trial process where they introduce an intense 3-day training and mental preparation camp as a part of the players combine based at Etihad Stadium. Through several fitness tests, interviews, mental based assignments and body screening tests, at the ripe age of 23, Jack became every umpires dream, an AFL Umpire.

When Jack had experienced this result of getting elevated, he mentioned ‘my body went into shock, I dropped the phone and I was numb for the next 15 minutes’. Something no one could really comment on unless of course you have received this sort of phone call before.

Although you could say, he made it at an early age and went through the ranks so quickly, however his determination, behaviours and attitude was to such a high standard he could only warrant the elevation.edwards 1

Jack soon debuted in the AFL where Hawthorn took on Melbourne on the hollowed turf of the MCG at a blockbuster time of 2:10pm on a sunny Saturday afternoon. What more can you want, right?

The AFL had the biggest ticket request in history of umpires; Jack’s support crew took up most of the Great Southern Stand at the G, but he says, “It was great to have my family and friends there, even if I don’t remember much of it as it went so quickly. I wish I could relive that game all over again.”

After two seasons and 11 games, the most unfortunate and devastating news was received by Jack. Through his resilience, he saw the opportunity to head back to the VFL and continue to umpire a high level with the goal of getting a recall to the AFL.

Fast forward to now, the Man In White writes this story as we acknowledge and congratulate Jack who notches up 100 VFL Senior Games and gets another photo on the wall at Vic Park.

When asked about his 100 games in VFL Football, he said, “It’s a nice milestone (to achieve) and when I look back, I feel very lucky to have been given an opportunity to umpire with some of my closest mates.”

Obviously, through the journey, Jack has had tremendous support through his high school sweetheart of 9 years, Melany, his family; Mother Pina, Father Craig, and brother (also VFL goal umpire) Matthew. He appreciates all they have done for him to achieve this. He mentioned, “Without their support, I wouldn’t have done one game let alone 100.”

When asked what he loves about umpiring, he said, “The challenge, being around my mates and the opportunities we get doing something we love to do.” Ultimately, you could say this is why we all umpire!

Jack, the VFUA, Man In White and all members wish you the best of luck this weekend for your 100th game.