Chris Doyle – 150th VFL Match
This week Chris Doyle became the 27th umpire, and the 10th goal umpire to officiate 150 VFL Matches. Chris’ journey at the VFL would be described as one which is filled with resilience, perseverance, and consistency.
Doylely, as he is affectionately known, started his career running the boundary for his alma mater St. Kevins in 1997 (Yes! Years before many of our current members were born). In 2002, he joined the VAFA to take boundary umpiring more seriously, but after a soft tissue injury that year he moved across to the goals. It was in 2006 that he joined the VFL Development Squad.
The next seven years were filled with many trials and tribulations for Chris as he struggled to break into the senior squad. This came to a head at the end of 2012 when former goal umpire coach Steve Stirling gave Chris an ultimatum, improve his fitness standards to the benchmarks required or not to come back. During the off season, Chris lost almost 15 kilograms and in Round 3 2013 he was rewarded with his first senior match when Williamstown played Werribee at Downer Oval. After joining the senior squad in 2013, Chris went on to become one of the most consistent performers on the squad, which resulted in him officiating the 2016 and 2017 TAC Cup Grand Finals.
The one match that stands out for Chris was a semifinal in 2016, when Footscray played Essendon at Port Melbourne. Doylely believes he had an “out of body” experience that day as he had 41 scoring shots and nailed all of them. However, he also vividly remembers the moments when he split his pants at Werribee to get Hungry Jack’s before a match and when he was “put on his arse” in a TV match at Preston.
Chris would be described as a unique and peculiar character with elite performance habits. Over the course of his 16-year journey he has demonstrated habits which included drinking a diet Coke before a match, having a piece of flake, Three potato cakes and minimum chips the night before a match, and finally being the last out of the rooms with the comment “Lack of Ability: Check”.
When reflecting on his career to date, Chris believes the thing he enjoys the most is the camaraderie from the group, especially the weekly story times at The Retreat, and the banter from his biggest pest Callum Leonard. While these days he doesn’t enjoy the short sharp agility training sessions, he looks forward to umpiring the new interstate teams and no longer having to worry about the fitness benchmarks.
Umpiring 379 matches at state league level, Chris has developed a well-rounded perspective on footy and goal umpiring. His advice for aspiring goal umpires is to do the work (he hates seeing people waste their talent), and to not sweat the small things. He also believes that if he could change one thing about footy, it’s that if the if ball hits the post and goes through the goal, it should still a goal (like in all other sports).
Also, did you know that he is a Timekeeper for the AFL!