VFUA Team of the Decade

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2020 Virtual Finals Series – Team of the Decade

Calling all members & Victorian Umpiring supporters!

Each week during the abandoned 2020 VFL Finals Series we will be showcasing the best VFL umpires of the past decade, culminating in a #TeamOfTheDecade for the VFUA. #IsolationSeason

And we want you to vote!

How it will work:

  • Nominations for each discipline will be released each week of the “virtual finals series”
  • Individual Umpires will be nominated by the VFUA based on their career statistics & achievements
  • Facebook Voting Polls will be open Monday & close the following Saturday for that group
  • We encourage everyone to share their stories and facts about the Nominees on the page

https://www.facebook.com/groups/vfuateamofthedecade

 

Sam Stagg’s 1st AFL Game

SamStagg_1stAFL_800pxSam Stagg – 1st AFL Game

No-one could have anticipated umpiring your first AFL game in an empty stadium, but these are strange times indeed.

Sam Stagg’s career started with the Bendigo Umpires’ Association where he umpired the 2011 Loddon Valley Senior Grand Final and then went on to umpire the 2012 and 2013 Bendigo Football Grand Finals.

These appointments led to Sam moving to the VFL, where he started in 2014.  Living in Bendigo meant that Sam commuted by train from Bendigo to Melbourne twice a week to attend training at Victoria Park, leaving home at 2.30pm and arriving home at 10.15pm.

Sam’s commitment and fitness paid off with him experiencing one of his career highlights in umpiring the 2019 VFL Grand Final as well as being recognised as the VFL’s Boundary Umpire of the Year.  Sam was subsequently appointed to the AFL list and umpired his first AFL game between North Melbourne and St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Sunday 22 March 2020.

It took Sam a while to get into the game as he and Ian Burrows had none of the play in the first quarter.  His first decision in AFL football occurred in the 2nd quarter with a boundary throw in about 48 metres from goal, as a result of a pretty straight forward spoil over the line.

Sam reflected on there being no crowds for his first game, “Yeah it’s very different. I’ve umpired VFL curtain raisers before at Marvel where there is pretty much no one in the crowd for a half or even Under 18 championship games with no one there, so l had experienced that aspect before.  Probably the last 5 minutes of the game was when you noticed no one was there as North Melbourne came from behind and took the lead and held onto a 2-point win.”

Now that round one is behind him, Sam is like all other AFL umpires and is training alone. He says it is all about being self-motivated and maintaining your fitness so when we do resume l am ready to go.  With this in mind, Sam is trying to keep his training the same or similar throughout the week as if he was in-season with the exception of no games at the weekend.

Sam has enjoyed a number of games leading up to his AFL debut.  His first VFL game, first final, first grand final, then of course his first AFL game. However, if he had to pick one he felt the 2018 Preliminary Final between Williamstown and Box Hill would be his favourite with Box Hill sneaking home by one point.

One of his funnier moments in football was back in Bendigo when he was umpiring a match between Sandhurst and Maryborough at QEO Oval. Sam had made a tough call right in front of the grandstand and a Maryborough player didn’t agree with him and let him know about it.  One of the Sandhurst players who he knew came up and bumped the Maryborough player telling him to “Leave him alone, he’s the best boundary umpire in Bendigo mate, l am sure it’s the right call.”

Sam loves being involved in football and being so close to the action.  With an AFL career ahead of him, there is one thing that is certain in these uncertain times – he will see plenty of action in the years ahead once footy is back on the park.  Congratulations Sam and best wishes for a great career ahead.

Clickety Jesse: A series of unfortunate ankles

MemberProfile_Wilkie_JJesse Wilkie – VFL Senior Boundary Umpire

First started umpiring with?
Riddell Umpires
What made you take up umpiring?
I had a pretty nasty head injury (not football related). Wanted to stay involved in footy so I started umpiring.
Career highs or lows?
High: Umpiring in an AFLW grand final.
Lows: The early morning starts where they are scraping the ice off the ground before the game starts. One particular match in Werribee comes to mind.
Most memorable umpiring moment
Two in particular stand out: I got to run around on what was then Etihad stadium with some absolute legends of the game during filming of Foxtel’s ‘the recruit.’
Pretty tough to top the last two minutes of the first AFLW grand final, tight finish with a great atmosphere.
Most forgettable umpiring moment?
I failed to pack a whistle before departing to the Gold Coast for the U16 champs.
Most influential coach/mentor in umpiring?
One decision from a coach has had a huge influence on my umpiring.
Having umpired the Senior RDFL grand final in 2013, Cameron Black didn’t select me for the senior RDFL grand final in 2014, whilst it hurt at the time I definitely have to thank Blacky for this as it acted as a big motivator in subsequent seasons.
Best advice given to you early on in your career?
Pump your arms – Thomo
Most influential fellow umpiring peer?
Kyle Fisher started down at local league a year or two before myself, in my first year i tried to emulate his previous season, then the next season i wanted to be able to match it with him.
What do you like most about being an umpire?
There are so many great benefits, can’t knock the experiences I have been given along the journey, namely the national U16 carnival on the gold coast.
What can you not go without doing on match day?
No real superstitions but I like to listen to The Howie Games on my way to a game.
Favourite sport besides footy?
Golf
What’s your best sporting experience outside of footy?
Standing front row of the crowd for Winx’s fourth Cox Plate was pretty special.
Watching Adam Scott win the Masters (on TV) was also a highlight.
What are the benefits of being a VFUA member?
The VFUA does a great job of keeping members informed, especially in current times with so much uncertainty. They provide the opportunity to celebrate the season at the VFUA ball and the whole team are willing to work so hard for all members.
What’s your occupation/day-job?
Container Control/ISO Tank Surveyor
Favourite food?
Crumbed lamb cutlets.
Favourite movie?
Happy Gilmore
3 people you’d like to have dinner with?
James Hird, Sally Fitzgibbons and Brendon Gale
Favourite holiday destination
Every good holiday has a beach, Torquay and the Gold Coast are regulars.
Most admired person, why?
It’s too difficult to pick just one, they don’t have a public profile but RW, DR, GC and CC have had huge influences on my life and I often look at them in admiration for their work ethic and demeanour.

A Marathon Effort on a Tennis Court

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A Marathon Effort on a Tennis Court

Life Member Russell “Rusty” Davidson

In normal times, Easter Monday was reserved for recovering from family gatherings, eating and drinking too much and plonking oneself in front of the TV for a footy game at the G.

In 2020, school holidays were different with many restrictions in place and families struggling with things to keep their children entertained.  Former VFL umpire and VFUA President Russell Davidson, with 3 children, set them a challenge.  Run a marathon which is a combination of 605 laps of the backyard tennis court in 2 weeks and he’d run a marathon himself.

Suffice to say they didn’t get anywhere near meeting the challenge, so Russell decided to do it himself on Easter Monday.

Had he prepared?  According to Rusty, “Ah no.”  He was planning to run the Melbourne Marathon in October so had been doing a bit of training but certainly nothing that had prepared him for a marathon.

He described the experience of running 605 laps of his tennis court as certainly different. “There wasn’t a lot of change in scenery.”  Rusty set off at 7am and had his kids there for the majority of the time, counting laps, playing loud tunes, running with him and shouting encouragement.

The toughest part was the constant twisting and turning.  Rusty admits his knees, back and hips took a pounding, “A regular run through the streets is generally in a straight line so you can build up a bit of momentum.  No such chance on the tennis court. A few strides and it’s time to turn again.”  He says mentally he was fine and that he changed direction every 50 laps and made sure he walked a lap every time he turned around.

Having no time pressures meant he could take as long as he liked. He was pretty determined so there was no way he wasn’t going to get it done!

Initially he pulled up pretty sore, particularly in the lower back and legs.  However, unlike other marathons he has run, he was back up and running a few days later and felt fine.

file-16This was Rusty’s fifth marathon.  He has run two Melbourne marathons with a PB of 2.50 in 2003, one in Sydney and one as part of the Australian Ironman in 2016.  He admits his backyard marathon was harder than any of his previous marathons although the pain he experienced in the ironman does compare.

He still has his ambitions set on running the Melbourne marathon in October this year, however he thinks it might fall victim to COVID-19 restrictions.  Otherwise, he will be busy umpiring in the APS/AGSV school boy competitions and coaching the VAFA Senior field umpires later this year.

Congratulations Rusty on a ‘marathon’ effort and we wish you continued success in your coaching and running endeavors in the year ahead.

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Bailing With Bailes

MemberProfile_Bailes_PPeter Bailes (#22) – VFL Senior Field Umpire

First started umpiring with?
Moorabbin Saints Junior Football League (now the SMJFL)
What made you take up umpiring?
For the cash money!
Career highs or lows?
Youngest to ever umpire a VAFA A grade grand final would be a high, low point would be not being able to see all my mates at training twice a week in 2020.
Most memorable umpiring moment
Sitting the bench for an AFL game
Most forgettable umpiring moment
Falling on my ass after backing out from a ball up at Windy Hill
Most influential coach/mentor in umpiring?
Tony Hales
Best advice given to you early on in your career?
Listen to every bit of advice given to you, then choose what you do with it.
Most influential fellow umpiring peer?
Andrew Heffernan and Dan Butcher
What do you like most about being an umpire?
Having a locker next to Jack Edwards at training
What can you not go without doing on match day?
After crossing the centre circle, I take 3 steps and my 3rd step (always the left foot) I blow my whistle to test if it’s working
Favourite sport besides footy?
Basketball or golf
What’s your best sporting experience outside of footy?
Leading the scoring title in the Sandringham Basketball Association’s men’s C grade Tuesday night basketball
What are the benefits of being a VFUA member?
I don’t have enough time to write them.
The constant communication from the senior field track rep, the support he gives the group and the way he delivers information is probably top of the list
What’s your occupation/day-job?
Science and maths teacher at Brighton Secondary College
Favourite food?
My aunty Karen’s spaghetti with meatballs and sauce. She’s Italian so that’s a given
Favourite movie?
Avengers. All of them.
Favourite artist/band?
Harry Styles right up there. Post Malone and Fall Out Boy close second.
3 people you’d like to have dinner with
Kim Jong-Un, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson
Favourite holiday destination
Victoria Park
Most admired person, why?
Matt Mahoney, because there’s nothing the man can’t do.

Eager to know Steger?

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Adam Steger – Development Goal Umpire

First started umpiring with?
WRFL in 2012
What made you take up umpiring?
To stay involved with football after I quit playing. Also good way to earn some pocket money!
Career highs or lows?
Career high would have to be umpiring my first AFLW game this year! Career low would be getting my dates mixed up and not turning up to a game.
Most memorable umpiring moment
First Division 1 SNR GF at the WRFL. First time I had umpired in front of a decent sized crowd!
Most forgettable umpiring moment
Probably rocking up to a game with dirty boots.
Most influential coach/mentor in umpiring?
Paul Battaglia from the WRFL, with over 400 DIV 1 SNR games, he took me under his wing and showed me how to improve to get me to where I am today.
Best advice given to you early on in your career?
Be a sponge. Absorb any advice anyone gives you.
Most influential fellow umpiring peer?
Not sure, everyone is influential in their own way.
What do you like most about being an umpire?
Having a front row seat
Favourite sport besides footy?
Tough. Either Motorsport (F1 & Supercars) or Cricket!
What’s your best sporting experience outside of footy?
Winning a Cricket Senior Grand Final.
Favourite food?
Comfortably a Parma
Favourite movie?
Rush
Favourite artist/band?
Morgan Wallen or Kygo
3 people you’d like to have dinner with
Razor Ray, Steve Smith, Daniel Ricciardo
Favourite holiday destination
Queensland, love going up there to see family

2020 Virtual Mini Olympics Launched

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2020 Paul Anderson Memorial “Virtual” Mini-Olympics

4th May 2020

The time has come for us to officially launch the 2020 Mini Olympics.
Due to the current circumstances, we will be doing things differently & conducting this years’ events virtually.

Support our Victorian umpires, watch them battle it out for the Paul Anderson Memorial Shield & donate to a great cause – Cancer Council Victoria.

• Events begin 4th May, winning squads will be posted after each event is completed over the next 5 weeks.
• To register your donation visit our GoFundMe page http://gf.me/u/xyx6r7
• To read more about the Paul Anderson Memorial Shield visit http://vfua.net/?page_id=70

GET ON BOARD! 🏆🏆

 

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Hangin’ out with Sticks

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Nick Phillips – VFL Senior Boundary Umpire

First started umpiring with?
Northern football league
What made you take up umpiring?
Was pretty shit at footy but still wanted to be involved
Most memorable umpiring moment
Umpiring in front of 53,000 at Adelaide oval for AFLW grand final
Most forgettable umpiring moment
There’s a few of them, Beach road is one
Most influential coach/mentor in umpiring?
Vittas or Fozzy
Best advice given to you early on in your career?
Being the best umpire isn’t just about how good you are at running
Most influential fellow umpiring peer?
The goat (Kieran Ferguson)
What do you like most about being an umpire?
Getting to be involved in football without getting smashed playing
What can you not go without doing on match day?
Coffee, bacon and eggs. My list is kind of long
Favourite sport besides footy?
Cricket
What’s your best sporting experience outside of footy?
Running at nationals on the track
What are the benefits of being a VFUA member?
Going to the VFUA Ball
What’s your occupation/day-job?
At the moment student but will be a teacher
Favourite food?
Maccas chicken nuggets
Favourite movie?
The lion king
Favourite artist/band?
Hilltop hoods
3 people you’d like to have dinner with
Nelson Mandela
Michael Jordan
Israel Adesanya
Favourite holiday destination
The Gulag
Most admired person, why?
Mo Farah because he has a professional mindset and he continues to develop and work hard.

Sale away with Floydy

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Lachlan Floyd – Senior Development Field Umpire

Lachlan Floyd (Floydy) is one of the most selfless people I know. You will discover reasons for this throughout the profile below, but to just give you some context, before we had this chat Floydy had finished recording a podcast called “Blokes Don’t Talk”, a podcast about men’s mental health in which he was a guest. Give his disability services business “Ohana Services” a follow on Facebook, there is a lot of heart-warming content.

First started umpiring with?
Sale umpires association. Started in 2007 as a boundary for two years, and was close to quitting. One day, however, I got the call up to do the field as the field umpire hadn’t shown up. I must have done a good job because the next week I was called up to the seniors, and my umpiring journey went from there.
What made you take up umpiring?
All my mates from school were taking it up and I wanted money.
As an aside: Floydy played interleague football himself in U/16s and U/18s. He earned an automatic invitation to trial for NAB League club Gippsland Power however declined as he enjoyed umpiring more. He played with Shannen Lange (Port Melbourne VFL) and Will Hams (Essendon AFL).
Career high?
Career high was making the list in 2017.
Most memorable umpiring moment
Umpiring on the MCG.
Most forgettable umpiring moment
First year VFLW game at Casey, I backed out, hit a player and totally stacked on my arse.
Most influential coach/mentor in umpiring?
Ken Wagner and Nick Cullis. Started with them doing green-shirt program.
Best advice given to you early on in your career?
‘Blow it loud and strong’
Most influential fellow umpiring peer?
I can’t limit it to one. First off is Nick Cullis who started with me. Next is Brayden Hunter who constantly calls me to have a chat on the long drives home to Sale, he is always asking how I’m going (interviewer note: bit of a bromance going on here). Finally Matt Mahoney for his leadership amongst the development field umpire group.
What do you like most about being an umpire?
Challenges. Training, coaching and game-day. I love that nothing is easy.
What can you not go without doing on match day?
For those who are not aware, Floydy lives in Sale, which is at least a 3 hour drive from our Vic Park home base. To give you can idea of his routine for getting to training every Tuesday and Thursday night from January through to September:
Always packs his bag the night before.
Midday: Finish work. Come home, grab bag, get changed and scoff something down to eat quickly.
1:00: Leave Sale for the drive to training.
4:00: Arrive at Vic Park. Either have a nap or go for a quick walk. Always try to be the first person in the door when it opens at 4:45.
Getting home: Floydy normally gets home at around 11:00, which includes a stop off at Officer to get something to eat and some coffee to keep awake.
GAME DAY:
I always have to get there two hours before, first thing I do is change into the AFL tracksuit pants. Then I tape my whistle onto two fingers, put footy boots on, and get out there for a warm up. I never do a warm up without my footy boots on and whistle taped to fingers.
Favourite sport besides footy?
Split between cricket and boxing.
What’s your best sporting experience outside of footy?
Travelling to England to play cricket for 6 months when I was 19. Played in the 1st XI at Prestbury Cricket Club in the Cheshire League. I opened the bowling, and I also told them I could bat as well as all year I batted at 3 or 4. In Australia I rarely bat in the top 6!
What’s your occupation/day-job?
Business Owner of Ohana Services (give us a follow on Facebook).
This is a service for people living with disabilities to help them achieve their goals in life.
I started Ohana Services in 2018 after working for a similar disability services organisation, and deciding that I wanted to create more opportunity for people with disabilities and give them a choice.
Favourite food?
“Is Great Northern a food”.
In all seriousness my favourite food is capsicum.
Favourite movie?
The Hangover
3 people you’d like to have dinner with
Donald Trump, Xi Jinping and Conor McGregor. Would be good also to have Kane Cornes and Tex Walker as the wait staff.
Favourite holiday destination
Airley Beach, Queensland. Especially with Sam Ferguson and Brayden Hunter (spud).

Lets go for a whizz with the Riz

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VFL Senior Goal Umpire – James Rizio

First started umpiring with?
Eastern Football League (EFL) 2016
What made you take up umpiring?
Being able to have the best seat in the house, the money on the side helps too!
Career highs or lows?
High: Umpiring at Port Melbourne in September, loved every minute of it
Low: Bird flap in VFLW Prelim 2018 (My only one too…)
Most memorable umpiring moment
Umpiring the International Cup 2017 Grand Final on the MCG with Frank Dicosmo
Most forgettable umpiring moment
Getting hit in the you know whats (wasn’t a warm day either)
Most influential coach/mentor in umpiring?
David Dixon (No surprise)
Best advice given to you early on in your career?
It’s important to umpire with enjoyment, don’t be too hard on yourself
Most influential fellow umpiring peer?
Thinking Simon Plumridge but then he ditched us to go to AFL, no biggie….
What do you like most about being an umpire?
Being part of a really high standard of footy, seeing it first hand
What can you not go without doing on match day?
Ironing flags the night before is key, whilst on match day always changing into on field gear with 30 minutes to walk
Favourite sport besides footy?
Cricket
What’s your best sporting experience outside of footy?
Touring the UK for cricket in 2015, 2017
What’s your occupation/day-job?
Freelance Graphic Designer also during cricket season I do curating
Favourite food?
Pasta as its very versatile, a Parma is a close second
Favourite movie?
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Favourite artist/band?
Oasis
3 people you’d like to have dinner with
Chris Appleton, David Dixon, Brad Letson (I just loved goal umpiring)
Favourite holiday destination
Perth (very underrated city)
Most admired person, why?
Tie between Mum and Dad, can’t decide. Always when I leave home for a game I hear “Do your best and have fun”.