Peter Kelly Retires


Peter Kelly Retires

The words on the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Peter Kelly at the 2021 VFUA Life Members Dinner capture the essence of his vast contribution:

A man whose passion for umpiring has changed the game. This award celebrates his extraordinary contribution and lifetime commitment to the umpiring profession and the association since its inception.

But what of the detail; and details were always part of the way PK conducted business – endless details.
The VFUA was formed in 1992 and began work for the 1993 season as the Victorian State Football League Umpires’ Association – Social Secretary, Peter Kelly.

In the following years PK and his committees organised 5-6 events per year from the UPD to variety nights to the grand final dinner dances. These events were also run for the AFLUA and catered for upwards of 350 attendees at the ball.  Taking on the role of both treasurer and social secretary in 1994 he was instrumental in the change of structure of the association from 1995 when he became VFUA administrator and later executive officer.

As 1996 President Greg Kennedy noted “My greatest recollection of PK during my time as president, was I never once had to worry about anything administrative. The VFUA was only a few years old and it was new ground we were breaking. Peter was instrumental in the formation of this great group”.

As administrator much fell into PK’s purview. Dealing with the VFL administration, usually in the form of Kevin Mitchell could be challenging but PK developed a process to deal with Mitch, his reactions and the sometimes concerning liberties or directions the VFL wanted to take with its umpires.

It was an indication of 2006-07 President, Rob Findlay’s thoughts that “PKs greatest asset is his ability to develop fantastic relationships with people across a broad spectrum. PK’s experience in human resources certainly put him in the box seat for drafting policies and initiatives in advance of the VFL: heat policy, formalised selection policies, extensive contributions to fees and condition arrangements, the biennial VFUA survey and he was also never far away from social events as either having some part in planning or as an enthusiastic participant.

And it was not just the VFUA as an organisation that benefitted from his involvement. Two former presidents both reflected what the association and individuals received:

I loved working with PK and learnt a lot. There was never anything left to chance. He thought of everything and he is the single reason why our Association is in such good order today. Presidents and Executive members come and go. This can have a topsy turvy effect on any Association. However, PK has been the rock. The strategy has never diverted and each year the conditions for umpires in the VFL get better and better. Umpires are respected more and the powers that be at Football Victoria have a greater understanding of who we are and what we want to achieve. Why – because one man has had a single vision. That vision has been to ensure that every umpire has the best possible chance to succeed and that they are well looked after by a professional organisation whilst they are a member (Russell Davidson, 1999)

If PK had not taken the VFUA by the reins who knows where it may have ended up. His passion, dedication and certainly commitment to his roles, the Executive Officer position, show what type of person PK is. He has assisted a lot of people, including myself with their leadership skills and developed some fantastic role models for up and coming umpires. He has done all this whilst most importantly having fun (Adam Wojcik, 2007)

VFUA matters were never far from his mind regardless of location. Richard Mills recruitment as president was one example.

“In my time on the list PK was always present at functions (drink in hand!) mixing with and welcoming everyone that came along. I used to run into PK at any one of the many MCC bar’s on grand final day each year and we would have a chat. One year the conversation turned into an invitation to run for presidency of the association – an invitation I took up. Without having been on the executive before – it was always going to be a big challenge. PK was there right the way though, always a constant support.”

And let us not forget that PK was also a 36-match AFL goal umpire in the early days of the then VSFLUA and had contributed to the AFLUA on the Social Committee in 1989 and as Social Secretary in 1992 before that role was merged with the VSFLUA. He was also Penguin Vic while working at the Department of Tourism, being aptly cast through both stature and likeability.

Also, he contributed to the administration of the Southern Football League umpires (now SFNL) and Southern Umpires Association at various times during his VFUA tenure

Currently working in a part-time role with the AFLUA it’s a pretty full working life following his retirement from the Victorian public service – although they will be noting a large drop in the photocopying and printing costs in the last few years.

Peter Kelly leaves VFUA office having after 29 of outstanding service he has taken the association from infancy to maturity such that it was recognised as the bargaining agent for the new VFL competition incorporating umpires from NSW and Queensland.

He remains as life member, Special Award and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and respected among the association Executive Committees with which he has worked and by the generations of umpires he has served.

“A man whose passion for umpiring has changed the game”

Andrew Talbot – 200 VFL Games

 Talbo_200th_web_InstagramAndrew ‘The Human Turtle’ Talbot

Andrew Talbot umpires his 200th VFL match – Port Melbourne v Carlton at ETO Stadium on Saturday 19 June 2020.

By Peter Bailes

Ahead of the incredible achievement of reaching the 200 VFL game milestone, in which only a total of 3 umpires before him have reached, I had the pleasure of sitting down with someone who I’ve looked up to on my journey and has set a benchmark for the commitment and passion required for umpiring state league football. I sat down with Andrew ‘Turtle’ Talbot to discuss all things and find out more about the 237 sporting teams supporter to chat all things life, as well as the continued dedication and passion he has for umpiring and football.

  • VFL Life Member
  • 2018 VFL Field Umpire of the Year
  • 2018 VFL Grand Final
  • 2 TAC Cup Under 18 Grand Finals
  • 1 VFL Development League Grand Final
  • 17 VFL Finals
  • AFL Rookie 2013 – 2015
  • 1 AFL game
  • VFUA Life Member
  • VFUA President 2019

PB: So, let’s start on the fact that you’ve reached 200 games, congratulations on the achievement first and foremost. Two-part question. First, what’s been the best achievement, and what have been some of the greatest times for you along the journey?

AT: “Achievement wise, the individual pursuit of getting appointed to games like my state league game, the 2018 grand final. Even as umpiring has now become a team effort, it’s still nice to enjoy the individual accolades along the way.

Personally, though the best highlights have not necessarily been around being appointed to these matches, it’s the moments such as umpiring with Dos in last game, umpiring with Burgo in his life membership game, in which he decided to stay in the EZ all day mind you. And of course, the off-field shenanigans, Mad Mondays and catch ups with the extended group.”

PB: In 2019 you got a new job as Growth and Development Coordinator of Community Umpiring in Victoria, and you do a lot of great work for the community and umpiring in general. What’s your job at the AFL involve?

AT: “My main responsibilities is helping out all community umpiring clubs recruit umpires, retain them, train and develop their umpiring skills and then transition them to higher levels, whether it be senior football or state league football. I am also across providing resources for programs that these community leagues run, as well as support and assist any of their needs or queries.”

PB: Tell me about the time you were meant to run a marathon on the Sunday of a planned weekend away with the boys? Talk to me about your preparation for the event?

“This was one of the better weekends I’ve ever had. So, I was meant to run the marathon on the Sunday, and I was ‘adequately hydrating’ myself on the Friday night, and I may have had one too many beers, and I wasn’t in a good way come early Saturday morning. Then I spent the Saturday by the pool and properly rehydrating myself, ate my pasta and drank a Lucozade on the Saturday night, and then I was good to go come Sunday. Elite preparation.”

PB: Where did the turtle tattoo originate?

AT: “The tattoo represents a symbol from Vanuatu, representing perseverance, longevity and protection.”

PB: Most embarrassing moment umpiring?

AT: “I didn’t rock up for a scheduled game once, there was one email saying that the venue was changed. Somewhere along the line I missed the 2nd email with a day change and didn’t rock up on the Saturday, unfortunately left Cheever and Annie to do a reserves game by themselves.

After 5 senior games, Ian brown told me that I should be umpiring under 12’s footy’. I think I have come a long way since then.

Or how about how Phil Cleary said during one of my early TV games that ‘Andrew Talbot is a very technical umpire’. I haven’t changed since then.”

PB: “We won’t talk about that GF bounce, I’m sure you’re reminded of that on the regular.”

PB: What does the future hold for the great man? VFL games record, another grand final?

AT: “I just want to umpire as long as I can, I’d love to help to continue to develop the umpires that are coming through. It’s great to be able to contribute to the group and seeing all of the umpires progress through the ranks and watching them improve.”

PB: On the topic of umpires coming through the ranks, what’s the best advice for the up-and-coming umpires of the VFL, as well as all the local community umpires you work with?

AT: “Biggest thing that I’ve learnt is that you need to have a release outside of umpiring. I’ve seen too many umpires come down to the VFL and be too focused on making it as an umpire and it doesn’t work out, or they umpire poorly, and it affects them. And I know that’s contradictory of my job, as I basically eat acme thunderers, but when I’m not working or umpiring, I’m doing triathlons, exploring Australia or the world or watching any sport. I think it’s important to find what release works best for you, and don’t be afraid to give things a try.”

Considering it was his 200th, I organised a few umpires to give their views on Andrew Talbot.

Joel Clamp
I first met Talbot in 2012 during pre-season where Andrew was the fitness coach for the umpires in the Northern Football League, I was a 15-year-old boundary umpire. This weekend, we will be walking out for his 200th game, and just my 21st as a field umpire. Coming down in 2017 to the VFL Development Squad, Talbot was one of the first blokes to take me under his wing and show me the way. His guidance, experience and knowledge has not only rubbed off on me, but he has also made an impact on the whole group, including senior and development umpires. Talbots passion for umpiring is second to none, his continual willingness to learn after 14 years is inspiring. Over the many years I’ve got to know Talbot, there are a few moments in particular that stand out: our first game together at Windy Hill, the VFUA Grand Final After Party in 2018 where we both umpired grand finals in the same weekend, the many dinners post training, but the most memorable one for myself is our footy 7’s premiership in 2018 with the Cunning Stunts. I am looking forward to creating another memorable moment this weekend running out with you for your 200th. You have had an amazing career thus far and I am sure there are many more years to come for the turtle! Clampy

Samuel Ferguson
One of the most inspiring people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet is Andrew Talbot. This is not only through his contribution to umpiring both on and off the field, but also through many other important aspects of life. His work and dedication to spreading awareness for charities close to his heart, such as the foundation for PWS, speaks volumes about the kindness and generosity of the man, and has taught me the importance of supporting and being engaged in things meaningful to me. Andrew’s impact on me to become not only the best umpire I can be but more importantly a better person is second to none (more than he’d probably realise) and I consider myself extremely lucky to have such a role model as Talbo. I look forward to sharing the field with him this week for his 200th!

Marty Rodger
When you think of Talbo, a few different words come to mind: Friendly, Committed, Driven, Always Improving. But I think Talbo’s greatest attribute, as a person and within the VFL umpiring group, is he is the epitome of the perfect Team Player. Talbo is always looking at ways to improve, not only himself, but those around him and the wider VFL umpiring experience as a whole. There’s nobody who is more committed to giving back to umpiring as Talbo is, and not many who deserved to umpire a VFL GF more than Talbo. He’s been a fantastic contributor to VFL football for now 200 games, and thoroughly deserves his place as one of the great umpires of the competition. Congrats Talbo!

Kevin Charles Mitchell OAM


Former VFL Director of Umpiring and VFUA Life Member Kevin Mitchell was the recipient of a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the recent 2021 Queens Birthday Honours.

Over his 24 years in charge of umpiring in the VFL Mitch, as he was universally known, transformed it on more than one occasion and introduced much of what is taken for granted today. Over the course of his umpiring administrative and coaching career he has influenced hundreds of umpires many of whom have had significant AFL and VFL careers.

Speaking with the AFL in 2014 following his retirement he  noted ““if you stand still and stop looking for improvement you will fall away quickly. I was always challenged by the drive to get better.”

The physical legacy of the Victoria Park training facility which he worked so hard to have built is perhaps the most obvious result of Mitch’s persistence in so many things in life. Negotiating with Collingwood, Yarra Council, builder and the VFL administration he took a decrepit building and made a home for Victorian umpiring. The provision of match day trainers, the regular upgrading of coaching technical equipment to improve performance, the employment on non-umpiring professionals such as dieticians and psychologists were other initiatives that have become the regular part of the modern umpire’s experience at VFL level.

It is that VFL level that has provided the vast majority of AFL field, boundary and goal umpires in the last quarter of a century. Those that have made it to that level recognise Mitch’s influence. It was rarely smooth sailing for anyone but the striving for perfection and the honesty of the feedback built formidable umpires.

Mitch’s contribution to Victorian state level umpiring was recognised by the association with life membership of the VFUA in 2006. Like his coaching the relationship between the Umpiring Department and the association was rocky at times but both recognised they were looking to get the best for the umpires and that was what was important. Harmony was rarely far away.

Mitch’s umpiring credentials were second to none. He began as a boundary umpire in the VFL Reserve Grade in 1962 and was promoted to the VFL following his appointment to the 1967 VFL Reserve Grade Grand Final. The immediacy of his success was remarkable; a final in his first year and then four consecutive VFL grand finals. When he retired from the VFL his career stood at 236 matches including 23 finals and 8 VFL grand finals.

Off the field he contributed to the VFL Umpires’ Association in a significant manner. As trip organiser 1971-76 and Executive Committee member 1971-74 he remains the only boundary umpire to ever ascend to the presidency of the association in 1977. His association honours include life membership, lifetime achievement award, AFLUA Team of the Century and AFLUA Hall of Fame induction.

Prior to his role at the VFL he held various umpiring administration roles: Umpires Advisor Dandenong and District JFL 1980-83, Umpires Advisor Southern Umpires 1984, Assistant Director of Umpiring VFA 1985, Part time Umpire Recruitment and Promotions Officer VFL 1986-88, ull time Umpire Recruitment and Promotions Officer VFL 1989-90. He was recognised in 2000 with an Australian Sport Medal.

Congratulations Mitch on your honour it is well deserved recognition for a life of service to umpiring Australian football at every level.

Matt Edwards 100 VFL Games

Medwards 100th BMatt Edwards 100 VFL Games

On Saturday evening the 1st of May at the Downer Oval, Matt Edwards became the 78th umpire in the VFUA era to reach the 100 game milestone when he officiated in the Williamstown-Port Melbourne grudge match. He also became the 20th Goal Umpire to reach the milestone and the second Goal Umpire from the Diamond Valley/Northern Football league to reach the milestone.

Matt joined the VFL in 2012 and later went onto make his debut in senior footy in 2014 when Coburg played Werribee at Piranha Park. Matt comes from an umpiring family with his father being a 300 game legend of the Diamond Valley League , and brother Jack also completing 100 VFL games either side of a stint at the AFL. Matt credits both his father and brother’s involvements in the game as a catalyst for getting him involved, and also notes the first senior game that he did with Jack at the VFL as being one of the favourite moments of his career.

A career that has included the 2016 TAC Cup GF, the 2017 VFL Dev League GF and being involved in AFLW the past 2 seasons which culminated in being the emergency for this years decider between Adelaide and Brisbane indicates a career to this point of consistency and solid performances week to week. When pressed for his favourite moment he said that there were too many to mention, but did point out his involvement in the numerous grand finals as being a highlight, and also being able to share his 100th game with his family in the rooms post match.

When asked if he has a favourite ground to umpire at he was adamant that ETU Stadium would be his favourite by the length of the Flemington straight. Contrary to this he would have to say that the Downer Oval would have to be his least favourite and one that he had managed to avoid for two years. This statement confused the author of this article especially considering that his requested game happened to be a night game at Williamstown and the last time Matt had done a night game at Williamstown game there was a torrential downpour. Thankfully for Matt and the author Williamstown managed to produce one of its more pleasant evenings.

Congratulations again Matt on the achievement of 100 VFL senior games!!!

Cyrus Wong Retires

Cyrus Wong 01

Resilience, determination and persistence are just some of the many values that embody recent VFL Senior Goal Umpire retiree, Cyrus Wong. Cyrus’ 136 VFL Senior Games is an incredible effort spanning over a decade career at the VFL between the posts.

Failing the time trial in 2014 led to Cyrus embarking on a unique and physically demanding journey, that being running every current and defunct Melbourne train, tram and bus routes. This journey for Cyrus later led to him beating the time trial requirements and running those thousands of kilometres demonstrate his determination to overcome his previous challenges both physically and mentally.

I had the pleasure to run alongside Cyrus and former VFL Goal Umpire, Pete Balding in his final section of the public transport network which we will remember for many years to come. To see Cyrus’ face and reaction at the end of this journey was priceless.

I also had the pleasure to umpire alongside Cyrus in his final VFL match, held at what I would call his home away from home, Whitten Oval. Remaining professional and competent all the way to the final siren, it was a humbling experience to be there in person and I was extremely honoured to have had Cyrus choose me for his final game.

All the best for retirement Cyrus and for your future endeavours away from the VFL world.

– James Rizio

Cyrus Wong 03Cyrus Wong 02

New Executive Appointment – Administrator


New Appointment – Administrator 


The VFUA executive is thrilled to announce that Mr. Brad Noonan has been appointed as VFUA Administrator.

Brad has extensive experience in sports administration having worked previously in a number of roles including Football Victoria Administration Officer, General Manager of Northern Bullants, Assistant Football Manager at Carlton Football Club and Operations Manager at Big V Basketball.

Brad has previously officiated as an umpire in the VAFA and has been an AFL Official Timekeeper since 2010 which demonstrates his thorough understanding of the umpiring space.

The executive believes Brad’s appointment is a superb fit for the VFUA given his experience in sports administration and also his interest in umpiring.

Brad’s role will incorporate taking a lead role in planning activities and managing the administration of the VFUA

Matt Mahoney


  • – Ends-

New Executive Appointment: Members’ Representative


New Appointment – Members’ Representative

Monday 2 November 2020

The VFUA Executive is excited to announce that Mr. Peter Howe has been appointed as the Members’ Representative for the VFUA.

VFUA President Matt Mahoney said Peter was chosen after a competitive selection process. “The Executive is pleased to have attracted someone of Peter’s experience given the forthcoming changes that will impact our umpires during the next twelve months.”

Peter recently retired as Chief Executive Officer from the AFL Umpires’ Association after nearly 9 years at the helm during which time he negotiated the Collective Bargaining Agreement for AFL umpires and employment conditions for AFLW umpires. Peter also introduced a number of welfare programs and was an advocate for AFL umpires across a range of issues.

Prior to his employment with the AFLUA, Peter was AFL Umpires’ Assistant Coach from June 2003 to November 2011 and VFL Umpires’ Coach with the VFL from 1994 to 2003 so he brings to the role a deep knowledge of umpiring from a coaching and development perspective.

The Executive believes Peter’s appointment represents the perfect fit for the VFUA as he is well known within the umpiring community and has a good understanding of the history and current employment arrangements for our umpires.

Peter replaces Peter Kelly (PK) who has held a number of different leadership positions in his 28 years with the VFUA. PK is currently Manager, Operations and Member Engagement with the AFLUA and will now focus on that role. The Executive joins members in thanking PK for his terrific service to football covering many decades and wish him all the best into the future.

Matt Mahoney

VFUA Team of the Decade


2020 Virtual Finals Series – Team of the Decade

Calling all members & Victorian Umpiring supporters!

Each week during the abandoned 2020 VFL Finals Series we will be showcasing the best VFL umpires of the past decade, culminating in a #TeamOfTheDecade for the VFUA. #IsolationSeason

And we want you to vote!

How it will work:

  • Nominations for each discipline will be released each week of the “virtual finals series”
  • Individual Umpires will be nominated by the VFUA based on their career statistics & achievements
  • Facebook Voting Polls will be open Monday & close the following Saturday for that group
  • We encourage everyone to share their stories and facts about the Nominees on the page


Sam Stagg’s 1st AFL Game

SamStagg_1stAFL_800pxSam Stagg – 1st AFL Game

No-one could have anticipated umpiring your first AFL game in an empty stadium, but these are strange times indeed.

Sam Stagg’s career started with the Bendigo Umpires’ Association where he umpired the 2011 Loddon Valley Senior Grand Final and then went on to umpire the 2012 and 2013 Bendigo Football Grand Finals.

These appointments led to Sam moving to the VFL, where he started in 2014.  Living in Bendigo meant that Sam commuted by train from Bendigo to Melbourne twice a week to attend training at Victoria Park, leaving home at 2.30pm and arriving home at 10.15pm.

Sam’s commitment and fitness paid off with him experiencing one of his career highlights in umpiring the 2019 VFL Grand Final as well as being recognised as the VFL’s Boundary Umpire of the Year.  Sam was subsequently appointed to the AFL list and umpired his first AFL game between North Melbourne and St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Sunday 22 March 2020.

It took Sam a while to get into the game as he and Ian Burrows had none of the play in the first quarter.  His first decision in AFL football occurred in the 2nd quarter with a boundary throw in about 48 metres from goal, as a result of a pretty straight forward spoil over the line.

Sam reflected on there being no crowds for his first game, “Yeah it’s very different. I’ve umpired VFL curtain raisers before at Marvel where there is pretty much no one in the crowd for a half or even Under 18 championship games with no one there, so l had experienced that aspect before.  Probably the last 5 minutes of the game was when you noticed no one was there as North Melbourne came from behind and took the lead and held onto a 2-point win.”

Now that round one is behind him, Sam is like all other AFL umpires and is training alone. He says it is all about being self-motivated and maintaining your fitness so when we do resume l am ready to go.  With this in mind, Sam is trying to keep his training the same or similar throughout the week as if he was in-season with the exception of no games at the weekend.

Sam has enjoyed a number of games leading up to his AFL debut.  His first VFL game, first final, first grand final, then of course his first AFL game. However, if he had to pick one he felt the 2018 Preliminary Final between Williamstown and Box Hill would be his favourite with Box Hill sneaking home by one point.

One of his funnier moments in football was back in Bendigo when he was umpiring a match between Sandhurst and Maryborough at QEO Oval. Sam had made a tough call right in front of the grandstand and a Maryborough player didn’t agree with him and let him know about it.  One of the Sandhurst players who he knew came up and bumped the Maryborough player telling him to “Leave him alone, he’s the best boundary umpire in Bendigo mate, l am sure it’s the right call.”

Sam loves being involved in football and being so close to the action.  With an AFL career ahead of him, there is one thing that is certain in these uncertain times – he will see plenty of action in the years ahead once footy is back on the park.  Congratulations Sam and best wishes for a great career ahead.

Clickety Jesse: A series of unfortunate ankles

MemberProfile_Wilkie_JJesse Wilkie – VFL Senior Boundary Umpire

First started umpiring with?
Riddell Umpires
What made you take up umpiring?
I had a pretty nasty head injury (not football related). Wanted to stay involved in footy so I started umpiring.
Career highs or lows?
High: Umpiring in an AFLW grand final.
Lows: The early morning starts where they are scraping the ice off the ground before the game starts. One particular match in Werribee comes to mind.
Most memorable umpiring moment
Two in particular stand out: I got to run around on what was then Etihad stadium with some absolute legends of the game during filming of Foxtel’s ‘the recruit.’
Pretty tough to top the last two minutes of the first AFLW grand final, tight finish with a great atmosphere.
Most forgettable umpiring moment?
I failed to pack a whistle before departing to the Gold Coast for the U16 champs.
Most influential coach/mentor in umpiring?
One decision from a coach has had a huge influence on my umpiring.
Having umpired the Senior RDFL grand final in 2013, Cameron Black didn’t select me for the senior RDFL grand final in 2014, whilst it hurt at the time I definitely have to thank Blacky for this as it acted as a big motivator in subsequent seasons.
Best advice given to you early on in your career?
Pump your arms – Thomo
Most influential fellow umpiring peer?
Kyle Fisher started down at local league a year or two before myself, in my first year i tried to emulate his previous season, then the next season i wanted to be able to match it with him.
What do you like most about being an umpire?
There are so many great benefits, can’t knock the experiences I have been given along the journey, namely the national U16 carnival on the gold coast.
What can you not go without doing on match day?
No real superstitions but I like to listen to The Howie Games on my way to a game.
Favourite sport besides footy?
What’s your best sporting experience outside of footy?
Standing front row of the crowd for Winx’s fourth Cox Plate was pretty special.
Watching Adam Scott win the Masters (on TV) was also a highlight.
What are the benefits of being a VFUA member?
The VFUA does a great job of keeping members informed, especially in current times with so much uncertainty. They provide the opportunity to celebrate the season at the VFUA ball and the whole team are willing to work so hard for all members.
What’s your occupation/day-job?
Container Control/ISO Tank Surveyor
Favourite food?
Crumbed lamb cutlets.
Favourite movie?
Happy Gilmore
3 people you’d like to have dinner with?
James Hird, Sally Fitzgibbons and Brendon Gale
Favourite holiday destination
Every good holiday has a beach, Torquay and the Gold Coast are regulars.
Most admired person, why?
It’s too difficult to pick just one, they don’t have a public profile but RW, DR, GC and CC have had huge influences on my life and I often look at them in admiration for their work ethic and demeanour.