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

butcher

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.

Michael Curtis – 150 VFL games

To acknowledge VFUA President, Michael’s significant milestone, he was put through his paces in a one-on-one interview with fellow VFUA Strategy Team member, VFUA Vice President, Tristan Burgess:

So Michael where did it all start for you in umpiring and why did you pick umpiring?

I love footy and sport and played footy until under 16’s at Noble Park before beginning my umpiring career at Dandenong juniors and EFL for under 18’s. I took up umpiring as I loved the game but was too small to play senior footy and wanted to stay involved.

150 games coming up what does this milestone mean to you?

It is very humbling to be umpiring 150 games, it means a lot to me. During my time, umpiring has brought so much to me:

  • Great people: Firstly my team mates. There is such a great culture at the VFL and we honestly have the best group of people.
  • Great culture: Nashy has been great for our group and continuing to improve culture every year, supported by fantastic coaches, trainers, fitness staff.
  • Great experiences: whether it be at training, game day, after match feed at hunky Dories or a classic mad Monday, umpiring has brought so many great experiences
  • Great Association: Being involved with the Association has been a highlight and helped develop me further off the field

As you are the most busiest person in the world with 3 kids, VFUA President and working for Pro Build, what are the excitements you get out of life?

Family, mates, umpiring, sport, working hard pretty much sums me up. I have the best wife in the world and 3 amazing boys which I am so lucky to have. Being a Dad and watching the family continue to grow is the best excitement in life. 

I just really enjoy living life to the fullest and giving everything you have with no regrets.

Over the 10 years you’ve been around the VFL is there are memories that stands out to you? (could be on the footy/ training/ or anything)

Being carried off the track last Thursday night at training for my 150 was definitely up there.

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 the TAC and AFL development grand finals, the 2015 VFL Prelim final, my first TV game, my first VFUA Ball, the annual Mad Mondays and of course after match feeds!31092076_10215219059620086_3644180841854140416_n

From everyone involved with the VFUA, we congratulate Michael Curtis on 150 games to go with his astonishing contribution to the VFUA!

John Cooper 100 VFL Matches

cooperWhen asked to put together a bit of a summary of his career (thus far) to commemorate his 100th VFL match, my first thought was as if its 100 games already.

Having commenced with John back in 2011, I have had the great pleasure of witnessing hard work and dedication paying off. Long gone are the days of scraping through a time trial/skinnies, and to see him now as a great leader on and off the track is just fantastic.

If there was a ever a figure used for describing taking the P155, Johnny is a lock. We’ve all heard the stories of a signature Johnny moment:

  • Doing a back flip on the boundarycooper 3
  • Making a decision whilst literally on the ground, he says it was correct (I’d say its questionable)
  • Giving players fend-offs around the interchange gates, (despite giving away kilos and meters)
  • Being unable to maintain a consistent cadence without surging 
  • Nailing bin throw ins, (when no one is watching)
  • Winning a pro running Mile race at Rye (again no witnesses)
  • And many, many others.

Another testament to Johnny’s character is his ability to cop decisions on the chin. Having back to back prelims with reviews (not going his way) would give anyone cause to really filthy, dirty up and not speak to anyone for weeks/months. But to his credit, Johnny sucked it up, broke land speed records in 200s and by then end of the session was all smiles and back chatting with everyone.  

I remember preseason 2011, running a reserves match on some back street ground with both sides at quarter strength because they apparently all had a “massive night”. All preseason we had been preached about the jump from local, and to see blokes that couldn’t walk let alone run straight, really did leave us questioning what the hell we had gotten ourselves into.

I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that your career to date has been a pleasure to watch, and I know personally has driven me to push and reach my own goals.

All the best for this weekend, the rest of the season and hopefully another successful finals series.

Cheers, Vice Skip

2018 Paul Anderson Mini-Olympics

IMGP9475The Paul Anderson Mini-Olympics has now been running for over 15 years. This year as usual it took place on a Thursday afternoon as a replacement for normal pre-season training (a break from pre-season training is always welcomed by all!), on the 22nd of February 2018. It pits all six squads against each other (field, boundary and goal, split up into development and senior teams) to prove who is really the best-on-ground at Victoria Park.

This year, it kicked off with two never-before-seen events held inside the training rooms: football Hacky Sack and quoits. Quoits was a huge success, with scorer Andrew Talbot (back again after accusations of cheating in 2017) confirming at the end of the event that it was in fact a tie for first! Greta Miller, after successfully landing 5 shots in a row during regulation, stepped up again for the development boundaries in the tiebreak defeating Annie Mirabile (senior field).

Now it was time for the controversial new handicap system for the 4 x 200m relay to be put to the test! Development IMGP9477aboundaries were strong favourites early to go back-to-back in this event after recruiting Matt Crowley over the off-season, who is rumoured to be the progeny of a fifth place 1500m finisher at the Olympics. Intrigue surrounded the dropping of the baton by Lachlan Floyd (development field) who alleged Blake Anderson (development boundary) deliberately knocked it out of his flailing arms. In the end it was an extremely tight finish with senior field taking the gold after a heroic diving effort over the line from anchor Patrick Burns.

Perennial favourite soccer was next, running in conjunction with yet another new event: goal kicking. Despite losses in their first three games, a parochial crowd supporting the development field umpires erupted after Cameron Watts netted a winner in game 4. Unfortunately for them you don’t win the Mini-Olympics for having the loudest supporters, with the senior fieldies taking out the soccer competition. The goal kicking event saw Dean Jones take advantage of no shot clock, adopting the Ahmed Saad run up and leading the senior goal umpires to victory.

Tradition now saw everyone gather in a ring to observe the final two events of the night: the boundary throw-in and bounce. Fortunately Webp.net-gifmakerfor the senior field umpires, no squad was able to score maximum points in either of these events, and the Paul Anderson Shield was awarded to them for the second year running.

Following the events it was great to see everyone grab a snag (or 7 as in the case of senior boundary umpire Tom Horsten!) and come together in memory of Paul Anderson, a VFL umpire who lost his battle with cancer in 2001. The night raised over $1,200 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, refereeing of events as well as allowing us to have a training night to stage the event.

The support we receive from the Anderson family who have attended EVERY year since the event was named in honour of Paul is remarkable and testimony to the effect that his life and struggle against cancer had on so many friends and family.

See you all next year!

Photos on Facebook