Spare a thought for the umpires and the umpiring department today. As Hawthorn decides if Cyril Rioli is fit enough to play or whether Sewell or McEvoy can force their way back into the team, Campbell, Kennedy and their fellow selectors are putting ticks and crosses next to names that will determine the third team that walks onto the MCG this grand final Saturday.
For Justin Schmitt who has 282 games under his belt and is one of the veterans of the group, he is one of two, the other being Troy Pannell (150 games) who have never experienced a grand final at AFL level. For the others, Brett Rosebury 306 games and 5 grand finals, Simon Meredith 235 games and 2 grand finals, Matt Stevic 251 games, 1 grand final and Mat Nicholls, 229 games and 1 grand final they have all felt the nerves before. They will be sitting in their workplaces this morning trying to immerse themselves in their work and forget about the biggest prize in their sporting lives that awaits them. Their hearts will skip a beat every time the phone rings today.
There is the same pressure on each of the boundary umpires as well. The waiting game can take its toll. Veterans, Jonathan Creasey 272 games, Mark Thomson, 301 games and Ian Burrows 198 games all have 4 grand finals, Nathan Doig 187 games and 2 grand finals and Chris Gordon 140 games and 1 grand final know the drill. However, Chris Roberts 169 games, Matt Tomkins 69 games and Matt Konetschka 59 games are all new to this process, although Matt Tomkins did sit as the emergency boundary umpire in last years grand final.
Of the remaining four goal umpires only Chris Appleton 186 games has not umpired a grand final. He was the emergency grand final last season. Luke Walker the veteran with 198 games and five grand finals, Chelsea Roffey 167 games and Adam Wojcik 125 games both have one grand final.
We wish them all well as their fate lay in the hands of the selectors. All will be revealed on Tuesday at 10am.