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!

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

Sam Walsh -100 VFL matches

walsh-sam2 PBSaturday 7 April saw Sam Walsh take to the field to umpire in his 100th VFL game Frankston vs Essendon.

Reaching 100 for Sam hasn’t been exactly run of the mill. The start of 2013 took a turn and saw Sam succumbing to glandular fever, which took him out of action for all of the pre season. Many on the track admire Sam’s resilience, fitness and work ethic for bouncing back and achieving what Sam has today.

Sam has officiated in two TAC cup grand finals (one being in his second year listed!) In 2012 Sam was awarded with the best first year goal umpire, followed by 2013 the most improved senior umpire. It’s also worth mentioning that 12 of these games have been VFL finals, which is a reflection on the kind of umpire Sam is.

So why not get into Sam’s mind, and find out what really makes Sam tick…

How did everything start? What got you into footy?

I always loved footy as a young kid. My brothers and I would often kick the footy in the backyard and I often played at lunchtime with my friends throughout primary school. I played over 140 junior games, but got into umpiring at age 14. I started to notice the umpires more and more at the AFL games I attended or watched on TV and thought it was something that I would be really interested in. My passion for umpiring really grew from that point onwards and after I’d umpired my first game in 2007, I knew umpiring was where my true passion in footy was.

You started in 2013 and were elevated in 2018. How would you describe your time at the VFL?

My time at the VFL was amazing. You know you really enjoy something when you look forward to training each and every week. The atmosphere that we were able to create, enjoying each other’s company, made the umpiring experience really special. Then relationships built between the umpires were always very special. The time, energy and commitment the coaching staff spent on all of us across my six years spent at the VFL was amazing.

What’s your best memory of umpiring football?

I have several on field moments that I won’t forget, but my absolute favourite moment came after the final siren of last year’s VFL grand final. When Simon, Callum and I were sitting in the rooms after the game, the feeling that was running through us is just about indescribable. Knowing you’ve just been part of a thrilling grand final that was decided after the siren, we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces. The energy running through me was still at a high level until about 30 minutes after the game. In no other industry do you get that energy running through you like that.

You broke your finger this year. Does this still mean you have the longest signalling finger on the list? How did this come about?

Haha! I’m not sure about the longest on the list… but they’d be up there!! One week before round one (cricket season!!), I was doing some routine catching practice. I got a ball on the end of my middle finger (If only it was shorter?), and managed to break it in five places, as well as dislocate it. We had the VFUA ball that night, so I didn’t exactly go to hospital straight away like I probably should’ve… eventually, I got to hospital and got the news that I’d be missing the entire cricket season as it’s a six month injury!! Unbelievable scenes…

You have a few pre game rituals and routines; please enlighten us….

I always bring a subway sandwich to eat beforehand, although I’ve been constantly reminded for the last four years or so that I have stolen this from Dylan Benwell… I can say, hand on heart, I am not guilty of this!! Other than that, I like to have an iced coffee before the game as well. I’m also normally quite talkative, but you’ll notice with about five minutes to go until walk, I become very quiet!!

'walsh-samSo….Lets learn more about what you’d prefer:

Make your girlfriend pay for an uber/or make her pay you?

Agwa lemonade/Cointreau soda?

Middlesbrough / Melbourne City….BOTH!

Steve Smith / David Warner

Sam Walsh / Sam Martin

Sam, you have been an integral part of the culture we have now introducing the Walsh games which tradition is going strong 3 years in. We all congratulate you on your 100th game milestone and wish you all the best with your upcoming season and cant wait to watch you go from strength to strength.

RAISE THE BAT!  S.WALSH 100*

 

Andrew Leggo – 100 games

Saturday 5 August 2017 may not stand out to many people but it was the day that well-respected boundary umpire Andrew Leggo officiated in his 100th VFL senior match.  After arriving at Lulie Street in 2009, it was a great reward for Andrew to umpire the Round 16 Werribee vs Collingwood match on the fine turf of Etihad Stadium.

leggo-andrew 3You only have to ask around the group and coaching staff to hear how hard Leggo has worked to achieve this milestone.  “My first recollection of Andrew was this bloke will never make it. He struggled at the back of the group and I thought this bloke won’t last too long. Fast forward to 2017 and he has umpired 100 VFL games. It is a testament to the hard work and commitment put in from Andrew to get to where he is today” were just some of the stories heard in the boundary coaching theatre on the eve of the game. 

Andrew first got involved in umpiring at the age of 15: “A mate from school asked me if I wanted to join in as a part time job on a Saturday and as a way to earn some cash” Andrew said. Andrew took up his advice and started umpiring whilst playing football but it wasn’t actually until 4 years later that he attended his first umpiring training session. “I went on to umpire over 100 senior games of local footy in the Mornington Peninsula region before I came down to trial at the VFL”. “I spent 3 years on the development squad before making the senior list”.
It was an unusual way that Andrew officiated his first VFL game: “I had umpired the reserves at Coburg’s Piranha Park and straight after soon found myself running the senior game after one of the senior umpires had gone down with an injury” Leggo recalls. “My first official senior game was in my 3rd season at Box Hill where I was observed by one of the greats of boundary umpiring, John Summer”.
With umpiring 100 games comes a long list of highlights and Andrew certainly has plenty of them. “My first time umpiring a senior game at Frankston was special as something I had wanted to do as a young umpire was officiate a Dolphins match in front of a big hostile crowd”. “Umpiring my best friend Mark Baguley (current Essendon defender) whilst playing for the Bendigo Bombers is another good memory” he said. Season 2014 was arguably one of Leggo’s best where he racked up many individual accolades. ” It was certainly a memorable season, I umpired my first VFL final, umpired the Development League Grand Final as well as being awarded the most improved senior boundary umpire”.

leggo-andrew 5Umpiring VFL footy takes you to many different grounds and Leggo has umpired on quite a few. “All the road trips and overnight accommodation to places all over Victoria including Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong, Shepparton, Swan Hill and Wangaratta have been good fun.” On a lighter note there is one memory that sticks with Andrew pretty well. “In my first season we used to get given a dvd of some of our match footage and had to self assess. It’s fair to say that Kevin Mitchell (previous head coach) wasn’t too impressed when I handed in my assessment with a statement relating to a particularly good looking young water girl running past”. 

Reflecting on the milestone means a lot to Andrew: “It certainly means a tremendous amount to umpire 100 VFL games . I’ve come a long way from the guy the local umpiring group were worried to send up. It may sound like the old cliché but just doing one game was the ultimate goal and anything else was just a bonus. I’m extremely proud to reach the 100 and I’ve managed to remain injury free throughout my career”. 
Just like in 2009 when a young Andrew Leggo came down to trial, 2018 will see new faces invited down to Victoria Park and Andrew has some simple advice for the them: “You shouldn’t underestimate how important recovery is. Whether that be the extremes such as a beach recovery session in the middle of winter or something as simple as a protein shake or stretching, it all counts. The best tip I could give is that you will umpire better when you are enjoying yourself”. 
Off the field Andrew has enjoyed some important roles such as being captain of the senior group whilst also being in charge of the fines and Mad Monday. Andrew could be described as the “fabric” of a tight knit group and should be credited for making Victoria Park a fun environment on a cold winters Tuesday or Thursday night. 

leggo-100It’s been a pleasure to catch up with Andrew and certainly a fantastic achievement in reaching 100 VFL games. Whilst he hasn’t reached the ultimate high of the AFL, the selfless nature of Andrew says it all. “Making the AFL would be nice but seeing some of my best mates achieve their dream of umpiring at the top level makes it worthwhile knowing that I’ve had some influence along the way to help them get there.”

Good luck for the rest of the season!

Simon Plumridge – 100 VFL Games

I had the pleasure of sitting down recently with Simon Plumridge – milestone man and all-round top bloke – to chat to him about his career to date.

How did it all start?

I played footy until I was 13, but I wasnt much chop. I enjoyed going to watch my local senior team and I’d see the umpires and think that would be cool to do – a good way to be involved in the game and to earn a little pocket money. Then I saw an ad in the local paper, phoned the coach and got stuck in from there.

You’re one of the fitter goal umpires going around. Have you always been between the sticks?

Yes, I’ve always been in the goals. It’s the role that appealed to me most. Fair to say, I wasn’t the fittest when I first started; it’s something I really had to work on and apply myself at.

plumridge3

When did you realise that you could progress your career?

At the end of my second season, I umpired the Eastern Football League (EFL) Division Two Senior Grand Final. The match was tied at full time, so went into extra time. That really fuelled my desire to umpire in big games and I started thinking about and working towards coming to the VFL. The people who were most influential to me were the other goal umpires, who really encouraged me and inspired me. My first coach, Graeme Williams, was very important, too.

Describe your experience of trialling at the VFL.

I was very nervous and excited to get the chance to trial. The environment I stepped into was a far cry from where I’d come from – much more professional. I relished it and dove in. My first practice game was at Arden Street and I wore my local EFL top, as they didn’t have any shirts for trialees. I buddied up with a couple of other first years, including current AFL umpire Dylan Benwell. We shared a lot over those first couple of years.

plumridge4

Speaking of Dylan, Leigh Keen once described both of you as ‘once in a century’ umpires. Give us your thoughts on this and also your bond with Dyl.

Its very humbling to be thought of in such a way by someone of Leigh’s stature. An amazing umpire and person, Leigh was instrumental in my umpiring development. At the time, I was chuffed to receive such praise. Now Im a little embarrassed by the label.

Dyl and I have shared a friendship since that first year in 2011. Its been great to grow and develop as umpires together over the years. I was stoked at the end of last year when he was elevated to the AFL; he’s an extremely talented umpire and deserved his spot after his second Granny. At leashe’s living up to his label!

Who’s been most influential on your career to date?

Leigh was outstanding when I first got to the VFL. Steve Stirling was another big influence in the short time before he was promoted to AFL Head Coach, and also David Flegg and David Dixon – the way they think about, coach and approach the game.

As for umpires, the people I’ve looked up to who’ve been very influential – Steve Piperno, Pete Balding, Michael Craig, the list goes on! Ive got a lot of people to be thankful for.

What are the highlights of your career so far? The lowlights?

All the finals I’ve been involved in. The VFL Grand Final in 2015 is very special to me – a great day with a great panel. Also being involved in the 2016 State Game in Adelaide was a great experience. Im lucky that lowlights are really few and far between. Missing most of 2016 through injury was very tough, but its an experience Im still working through and learning from. You get to meet so many great people through umpiring – funny moments involved spending time with those people. There are too many to count, although its fair to say that games nights at training and Mad Mondays make up most of those moments of fun.

plumridge-simon2 R10

How was your milestone game?

It was a good day overall. I think the most special aspect of the day was the support I got from family, friends and fellow umpires. The game was a real arm-wrestle; players on both teams battled hard all day. The wind was certainly a factor and, in the end, Casey probably played the conditions better at their home ground [than the Northern Blues].

Whom did you pick to partner you in the goals for the day?

Sam Walsh. I’ve umpired with Sam for a long time – we umpired at local level for a few years and did a Senior Grand Final together.

Some quick-fire questions to finish off…

plumridge-simon1

Best you’ve umpired withI’ve had the privilege of umpiring with lots of great umpires – Dylan Benwell, Steve Piperno and Michael Craig spring to mind. The most consistent umpire I think I’ve ever run with would be Matthew Dervan – absolutely amazing.

Best coach: Four-way tie between Stirling, Keen, Flegg and Dixon! This may seem like a bit of a cop-out but I honestly can’t split them. They were obviously all amazing umpires in their own right and just the knowledge and experience they bring to coaching is phenomenal. They’re all very different coaches but have all had a big impact on me and my umpiring.

Best trainer: Another tie here – Dylan Benwell and Kate Griffiths. Both work really hard on their fitness and skills – and it shows. 

Funniest: I think Anthony Kyrkou and Callum Leonard, often featuring Chris Doyle or Sam Walsh, have proven to be funny over the years.

Strangest game day ritual you’ve seen: Having to show Cyrus that you’ve got a coin for the tossBenwell andmore recentlyMatty Edwards wearing their caps backwards before a game; Edwards again playing with downball pre-game to warm up; and Doyley getting changed at the last possible moment.

Congratulations, Simon!

 

– Cyrus Wong