T-Rip Calls Time

chrystie-tom2Signing off is a hard task for any individual, no matter what stage of your career or profession you are in. It’s always hard to pull the pin at anything you have spent a large portion of your life pursuing and crafting to be the best you can be. However there comes a time when it comes to an end and maybe life needs you to pursue other avenues.

This year is one of those years for a special member of the VFUA. Unfortunately, the VFUA is losing a beloved member and an all-time character of the umpiring ranks, Thomas Chrystie. After 10 years of VFL umpiring and many more before learning his craft, he has made the decision to step down from umpiring. With a booming career and a new baby arriving, he felt that time was right to hang it up.

Tom’s time at the Buffalo Centre started back in 2012 where a young small in stature boy set out to take over. His attitude and energy was second to none, however, was not accepted anywhere near as much as it was at the end of his career, as the great Kevin Mitchell made him earn every appearance in his early years. It would take 2 seasons for him to receive the number 30 and his debut at VFL Level on May 24, 2014, in an absolute titan clash between Coburg and Footscray. From that day on, apart from a few injuries and ill-timed holidays followed by some skin fold issues and a potential ban, he was a part of the furniture in senior umpiring.

In Tom’s 10 years, he officiated 135 VFL Senior games, including 4 finals, 30 TAC/Coates, 20 VFL reserves which includes the 2014 TAC Cup Grand Final and the 2015 VFL Reserves Grand Final. After back-to-back grand final appearances and strong performances in the VFL finals, it was untimely injuries that let him down at the pointy end of the year that saw him miss a lot of finals football in the years to come.

However, afterthe interrupted/cancelled season during 2019, Tom had a very strong season and earned an AFLW call up, where he officiated 22 games, and in 2022, he was named All Australian Umpire and capped the year off umpiring the 2022 AFLW Grand Final.

Tom’s stats tell a story of a true professional. The way he dedicated himself professionally over the years and his ability to take on feedback and always strive to make himself better allowed him to achieve such a successful career.To go with Tom’s accolades, the thing he will be remembered most by those that have known him for a substantial amount of time, and even to those that spent little time around the place, is his ability to constantly get the best out of everyone. His loveable personality combined with his professionalism made him a very popular character around the Buffalo Centre.

After talking and hearing there was not and will not be a bad word said about the man known as “T-Rip”, he brought the best out of everyone both on the field and off. He tried to make every moment, from preseason to the end of season piss up, as enjoyable as possible dragging everyone with him.

Toms Absence will leave a massive hole to be filled at the buffalo centre which will take a group effort to fill. To highlight the void ‘T-Rip’ will have, many of his past teammates have penned down what he meant to the VFL squads:

chrystie-tom4“T Rip! Congratulations on your umpiring career mate. In what can be a negative environment, you would lighten things up and make the gig a whole lot of fun, often taking the mickey out of yourself! Always up for a laugh yet always looking out for others, I’m so glad I got to meet you through umpiring and go through a whole range of experiences at Vic Park together. Jeez there were some funny moments and so many characters we met along the way. Congrats again mate – not an easy decision to make but you can now put your whole focus into your work where you’re dominating and into your family which is the most important thing in the world. Excited for you mate. Look forward to staying in touch!” Cheers, Heff

“T-Rip was always one of the favourites down at the VFL. He brightened up Victoria Park every training session and there wasn’t a night where he didn’t have us all in stitches at some stage. I have a lot of great memories from our time together at the VFL including doing my first game with him, reporting Will Minson for umpire contact and the ensuing debacle it became, nights out post VFL Grand Final at Love Machine but my favourite is when mid-game he decided to become a doctor and call for a stretcher on behalf of Collingwood only to have Ben Crocker stand up and take his kick…! He will be very much missed by the group for his cheeky grin, care for other umpires, frequent and sometimes inappropriate humour but most of all his ability to umpire the game and perform on field.” Matt Young

“When I think about guys that build culture and comradery there is none better than T-Rip. His ability to mentor the younger umpires on the list as well as helping anyone in need was a true testament to his character. His good banter, his willingness to work hard for the group, his selflessness to take an extra 10 bounces and most importantly his legacy at Victoria Park will be missed immensely. Well done on a truly great career, you should be proud of all you have achieved and I wish you all the best with the next chapter!” Jedwards

“Tommy you always made conditioning hilarious. Your trademark tucked in shirt and your claimed leadership by yelling out the times 3…2…1… go! But you would always go on 1 to get a subtle cheeky head-start. Will miss having you around mate!” Veli

“T-Rip would instantly light up the room with his cheeky smile as soon as he walked in. He was always great for a funny story or two and would always look to make everyone in the room feel comfortable and valued. His work rate was immense and his personality and rapport with players was brilliant. A huge loss for the VFL and I wish him all the best!” TC

“Tom Chrystie was and continues to be a true gentleman, welcoming incoming umpires with the same enthusiasm and care as his closest current colleagues, many would thank him for his kindness and inclusiveness prior to them being established within the group, a clinical bouncer and a person of a great honesty and aspiration, has grown from a silly smiling assassin to a proud father, Tom has left the umpiring space better than when he found it, new chapters continue without his presence but his place in the book remains.” Pongo


“T rip, thanking you for your friendship over the last few years, from me thinking you hated me (you probably did) early on to us sharing some unreal moments on and off field. Just remember, you have the same amount of all Australians as Hayden Kennedy so you should be very proud of the career you had. Heaps of love to you mate and keep on enjoying what you’re doing!” Clampy x

“T-Rip, I didn’t realise we were feuding for all these years, but I’ve always had the utmost respect for you as an umpire and person. From the cheeky grinned whippet to the level-headed leader you became, you’ve always made our squad entertaining and held the group to account when need be. All the best building your family.” Turtle

“Tom Chrystie. An elite decision maker, a magnificent bouncer, a great team man and most importantly, a terrific human being. The spine of the VFL culture for many years, Tom would always bring energy and fun to the group, both at training and on game day. My first memory of meeting him at Victoria Park involved him recounting a story that involved a cricket grip cone – I’ve never laughed so hard. I’m grateful to consider him a mate and have loved watching him become a husband and father. Well done a fantastic career T Rip!” Marty

“Tom Chrystie was a genuine star of the umpiring group. Not only was he the most reliable bouncer, but he has the glue and had the ability to bring everyone together through his humour and kindness. His laid back attitude wasn’t to be mistaken for his intelligence and commitment to umpiring, which saw him umpire the AFLW grand final in 2022. Umpiring was better for having people like Tom in it.” Peter Bailes

“One of the best! T-Rip is an all-round top umpire. He has brought so much to the Group both on and off the field. Decisionally sound and a bloody good umpire. He was someone you loved seeing line up next to you on the field on the weekend because he had your back and he was a team player. But he has been so much more than a good umpire at the VFL. He was a leader, a great mate at training, after match feeds were a blast (that Steak dinner after Frankston was a highlight!), Mad Monday BOG, all the good stuff that made him an amazing bloke off field that added so much to the Group. The best thing umpiring has done is introduce me to the legend himself T-Rip, he is a great friend and I’m loving catching up with the great man post umpiring. All the best with your next chapter mate, fatherhood, being an awesome husband and having a lower handicap than Youngy is definitely something to look forward to! Love ya mate!” Curto

“Tom, my friend, as you hang up your whistle, I just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you for all the years you’ve dedicated to umpiring and being an all round good bloke. You have brought such energy and passion to countless hours we’ve all dedicated to the craft. You’ve had a stella career and I wish you all the best for whatever comes next! Ps continue to be a norti boy! Good luck, mate!” Cheeves

For now, we wish Tom, Stina and Little Fred all the best as they venture forward as a family.

Love you T-Rip! Your mate,