Back to the Future for Determined Stewart

At the start of the 2015 season, the VFL Senior Field umpiring group was met with an old new face in the change rooms on the first night of pre-season, former TFL, VFL and AFL umpire, Shane Stewart.

Stewart returned to the group with the goal to get his position back with the AFL, where he has officiated in over 130 matches including a Final.

When asked about the transition back from AFL to VFL Stewart explains ‘ Obviously the standard of footy and training was different (to the AFL) and I probably didn’t prepare or train as well as I could have leading into the 2015 season’. Stewart had a number of niggling injures and setbacks, however he put this down to his ‘reduced preparation’.

during the 2013 AFL Round 17 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Fremantle Dockers at the MCG, Melbourne on July 21, 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)

during the 2013 AFL Round 17 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Fremantle Dockers at the MCG, Melbourne on July 21, 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)

However, once the season got underway, there was no doubt Stewart was relishing the role of being a senior umpire amongst a relatively young and inexperienced group. ‘I think it would be silly of me to not provide guidance (to the younger umpires). I want to use all my experience from state league and AFL level to help others and the group achieve more and raise the standards’. Stewart continued to provide this leadership during training, meetings and game day, which ‘has helped my personal development and add another string to my bow’ Stewart said.

When asked about looking to improve his game and how you can do that after so many years at the highest level, Stewart explains ‘the day you think you can’t learn anything else is a really sad day. You can always improve and learn in umpiring.’ This is a true indication of the way he goes about his umpiring on and off the field, with the experienced umpire telling us ‘ 2015 wasn’t my best year and I have learnt what I need to do to improve on it, get fitter, healthier and stronger to be the best I can be’.

2016 looks like it will be a really competitive year amongst the senior panel of VFL field umpires with a really solid group emerging over a fantastic pre season. Stewart isn’t looking too far ahead though; ‘It’s the old cliché of one week at a time, I know it’s annoying to hear but in this business you cannot look too far ahead because it only takes one bad game and you’re done. I just want to get through the pre-season fit and healthy and go into round 1 with some confidence. It is important to keep things simple, execute your skills, run hard, work hard and the rest will look after itself.’

Shane Stewart told the “Driving Force” behind his game is without a doubt getting back to the top level and umpiring AFL Footy once more. ‘I believe I still have the physical ability, attributes and experience to get back on the AFL list, if I didn’t think I have what it takes, I wouldn’t be at the VFL taking up a spot of a younger umpire.’ Stewart also notes during a recent meeting with the AFL Development group ‘Talent and Ability will only take you so far, hard work overrides everything, it is corny and a bit of a cliché but it’s true’.

Article written by Tim Carlos for