Double Century for Deano

Chris Doyle caught up with Dean Jones before his 200thmilestone game at Adcon Stadium (Port Melbourne v. Essendon, 23 June 2019) to reflect back on his fantastic career and journey towards 200.


200 games participation in any sporting or official endeavour is a feat nothing to be sneezed at, let alone umpiring 200 games of VFL Senior football. So, the fact that this weekend we have the 3rdever individual to reach this milestone is a feat to be congratulated and feted upon. It is somewhat ironic that the umpire who reaches this milestone, Dean Jones is one of the more quietly spoken and unassuming people you’ll meet in umpiring. Deano, who takes the goals in the Port Melbourne v Essendon match at the Adcon Stadium this Sunday definitely puts the ‘quiet’ in quiet achiever, but one can be assured that what Deano lacks in amount of words spoken, definitely makes up for in determination and application. It was a pleasure to catch up with him this week to discuss the impending milestone:

Deano, this is not the 1sttime you have reached the double ton. Who could forget your epic 210 against India at Madras in 1986-87…whoops wrong Dean Jones. What I meant to ask you is you obviously have had a range of experiences in your 200 games. What game would you say sticks out as your favourite game?

I’d have to say my favourite game was a final I did in 2005 which was Tasmania vs the Northern Bullants, which I umpired with my current coach Brad Letson. It was at Bellerive Oval, and there were 11,000 locals in attendance. They were extremely loud, until they started to get belted (Northern won by 73 points) and they all went off home

What would be your favourite thing about umpiring VFL football Deano?

My favourite thing about umpiring at the VFL football is simply going to training each week with all the guys. We have a great group of umpires in the senior squad, and the constant banter and back and forth between certain members of our group makes the whole experience really enjoyable

And what would be your least favourite?

A thing I’m not overly fond of is having to get to games 90 minutes before. It can feel like forever if there is no curtain raiser on beforehand, and you run out of things to talk out about with the bloke you’re umpiring with pretty quickly

You’ve been on the list since 2002 and you would’ve seen a heap of changes in your time at the Project Clothing centre. What would you say has been the biggest change?

The biggest change would definitely be the increased scrutiny from observers. When I started doing senior footy there would only be 3 or 4 senior games getting observed each week. However now all our games are getting observed either at the ground or on the video each week. There’s definitely nowhere to hide

And finally, who would you say you have been your favourite blokes to umpire with?

Yeah, in no particular order I would have to say I’ve enjoyed umpiring with current umpires such as Simon Plumridge (Deano’s partner on Sunday) and Chris Doyle, and some blasts from the past such as Lloyd Fisk, Michael Richardson, and Jeremy Grey


Deano, the magnitude of this achievement is one not to be underestimated, and we all know how hard you have worked to get there. It is incredibly well deserved. Best of luck for the big day, and let’s hope there are many more games to come.

Chris Doyle (21/6/2019)

175 for VFL’s fastest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Rob Geise

President Turtle reaches 175

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cal’s Hundred

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

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

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

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

Just a Country Kid Making His Way in the Big Smoke


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob Young Notches Up Ton

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

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

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

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

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

Congrats from all of us on this great achievement legend!

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!