Andrew ‘The Human Turtle’ Talbot
Andrew Talbot umpires his 200th VFL match – Port Melbourne v Carlton at ETO Stadium on Saturday 19 June 2020.
By Peter Bailes
Ahead of the incredible achievement of reaching the 200 VFL game milestone, in which only a total of 3 umpires before him have reached, I had the pleasure of sitting down with someone who I’ve looked up to on my journey and has set a benchmark for the commitment and passion required for umpiring state league football. I sat down with Andrew ‘Turtle’ Talbot to discuss all things and find out more about the 237 sporting teams supporter to chat all things life, as well as the continued dedication and passion he has for umpiring and football.
- VFL Life Member
- 2018 VFL Field Umpire of the Year
- 2018 VFL Grand Final
- 2 TAC Cup Under 18 Grand Finals
- 1 VFL Development League Grand Final
- 17 VFL Finals
- AFL Rookie 2013 – 2015
- 1 AFL game
- VFUA Life Member
- VFUA President 2019
PB: So, let’s start on the fact that you’ve reached 200 games, congratulations on the achievement first and foremost. Two-part question. First, what’s been the best achievement, and what have been some of the greatest times for you along the journey?
AT: “Achievement wise, the individual pursuit of getting appointed to games like my state league game, the 2018 grand final. Even as umpiring has now become a team effort, it’s still nice to enjoy the individual accolades along the way.
Personally, though the best highlights have not necessarily been around being appointed to these matches, it’s the moments such as umpiring with Dos in last game, umpiring with Burgo in his life membership game, in which he decided to stay in the EZ all day mind you. And of course, the off-field shenanigans, Mad Mondays and catch ups with the extended group.”
PB: In 2019 you got a new job as Growth and Development Coordinator of Community Umpiring in Victoria, and you do a lot of great work for the community and umpiring in general. What’s your job at the AFL involve?
AT: “My main responsibilities is helping out all community umpiring clubs recruit umpires, retain them, train and develop their umpiring skills and then transition them to higher levels, whether it be senior football or state league football. I am also across providing resources for programs that these community leagues run, as well as support and assist any of their needs or queries.”
PB: Tell me about the time you were meant to run a marathon on the Sunday of a planned weekend away with the boys? Talk to me about your preparation for the event?
“This was one of the better weekends I’ve ever had. So, I was meant to run the marathon on the Sunday, and I was ‘adequately hydrating’ myself on the Friday night, and I may have had one too many beers, and I wasn’t in a good way come early Saturday morning. Then I spent the Saturday by the pool and properly rehydrating myself, ate my pasta and drank a Lucozade on the Saturday night, and then I was good to go come Sunday. Elite preparation.”
PB: Where did the turtle tattoo originate?
AT: “The tattoo represents a symbol from Vanuatu, representing perseverance, longevity and protection.”
PB: Most embarrassing moment umpiring?
AT: “I didn’t rock up for a scheduled game once, there was one email saying that the venue was changed. Somewhere along the line I missed the 2nd email with a day change and didn’t rock up on the Saturday, unfortunately left Cheever and Annie to do a reserves game by themselves.
After 5 senior games, Ian brown told me that I should be umpiring under 12’s footy’. I think I have come a long way since then.
Or how about how Phil Cleary said during one of my early TV games that ‘Andrew Talbot is a very technical umpire’. I haven’t changed since then.”
PB: “We won’t talk about that GF bounce, I’m sure you’re reminded of that on the regular.”
PB: What does the future hold for the great man? VFL games record, another grand final?
AT: “I just want to umpire as long as I can, I’d love to help to continue to develop the umpires that are coming through. It’s great to be able to contribute to the group and seeing all of the umpires progress through the ranks and watching them improve.”
PB: On the topic of umpires coming through the ranks, what’s the best advice for the up-and-coming umpires of the VFL, as well as all the local community umpires you work with?
AT: “Biggest thing that I’ve learnt is that you need to have a release outside of umpiring. I’ve seen too many umpires come down to the VFL and be too focused on making it as an umpire and it doesn’t work out, or they umpire poorly, and it affects them. And I know that’s contradictory of my job, as I basically eat acme thunderers, but when I’m not working or umpiring, I’m doing triathlons, exploring Australia or the world or watching any sport. I think it’s important to find what release works best for you, and don’t be afraid to give things a try.”
Considering it was his 200th, I organised a few umpires to give their views on Andrew Talbot.
I first met Talbot in 2012 during pre-season where Andrew was the fitness coach for the umpires in the Northern Football League, I was a 15-year-old boundary umpire. This weekend, we will be walking out for his 200th game, and just my 21st as a field umpire. Coming down in 2017 to the VFL Development Squad, Talbot was one of the first blokes to take me under his wing and show me the way. His guidance, experience and knowledge has not only rubbed off on me, but he has also made an impact on the whole group, including senior and development umpires. Talbots passion for umpiring is second to none, his continual willingness to learn after 14 years is inspiring. Over the many years I’ve got to know Talbot, there are a few moments in particular that stand out: our first game together at Windy Hill, the VFUA Grand Final After Party in 2018 where we both umpired grand finals in the same weekend, the many dinners post training, but the most memorable one for myself is our footy 7’s premiership in 2018 with the Cunning Stunts. I am looking forward to creating another memorable moment this weekend running out with you for your 200th. You have had an amazing career thus far and I am sure there are many more years to come for the turtle! Clampy
One of the most inspiring people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet is Andrew Talbot. This is not only through his contribution to umpiring both on and off the field, but also through many other important aspects of life. His work and dedication to spreading awareness for charities close to his heart, such as the foundation for PWS, speaks volumes about the kindness and generosity of the man, and has taught me the importance of supporting and being engaged in things meaningful to me. Andrew’s impact on me to become not only the best umpire I can be but more importantly a better person is second to none (more than he’d probably realise) and I consider myself extremely lucky to have such a role model as Talbo. I look forward to sharing the field with him this week for his 200th!
When you think of Talbo, a few different words come to mind: Friendly, Committed, Driven, Always Improving. But I think Talbo’s greatest attribute, as a person and within the VFL umpiring group, is he is the epitome of the perfect Team Player. Talbo is always looking at ways to improve, not only himself, but those around him and the wider VFL umpiring experience as a whole. There’s nobody who is more committed to giving back to umpiring as Talbo is, and not many who deserved to umpire a VFL GF more than Talbo. He’s been a fantastic contributor to VFL football for now 200 games, and thoroughly deserves his place as one of the great umpires of the competition. Congrats Talbo!