The AFL Boundary Umpires year officially kicked off across the country in mid-January. As has been the case for a number of years, the 5km Time Trial formed part of the first week for the panel. With that now completed by most, focus turns to some intense training, trial matches and then the NAB Challenge, being held here, there and everywhere. After several years without a pre-season camp, and Boundary Umps predominantly umpiring in their home state, the inclusion of a camp later in February will see many seasoned umpires meeting each other for the first time!

Around the grounds:

NEW SOUTH WALES
We lost some great guys from the group at the end of 2014 (Chris Morrison and Pat Tongue in Vic and our ‘Canberra contingent’ of Luke Roberts, Scott Gordon and Chris Simms). All provided a great deal to the National Boundary umpiring panel. The changing of the guard in NSW sees Dan Field-Read join the list, providing NSW with 3 boundary umpires, all based in Sydney.

QUEENSLAND
An unusually hot and steamy preseason in Queensland, with the marriage of Cam Ward and engagement of Nick Wade to their respective partners. Nick Liparota has been welcomed back onto the Qld AFL umpire’s list after an ‘eventful’ 2014. Aaron Deckys enters his 18th AFL season in 2015.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The 5km Time Trial venue has now been sorted, and the SA boys are looking forward to seeing where they are at on Monday 9 Feb. After peaking at 10 listed boundary umpires in 2012, the list is now back to 5 very experienced fellas. Special mention to Darren Wilson, who has taken the stair-climbing world by storm in recent times. He is due up the Empire State building in New York in the next day or so. We wish him well.

VICTORIA
With the promotion of James Scully and Jordan Andrews from the VFL and the relocation from Adelaide of Jason Moore and Dillon Tee, the Victorian list has grown to 24. Mitch Le Fevre and Shane Jones have both recently tied the knot, while Tim Lougoon is next on the list, getting engaged late in 2014. With the arrival of Mackenzie Thiele, will we see the first female AFL Boundary ump in 20 years or so? With many milestones on the horizon, it is Ian Burrows’ 200th, which is due to fall in Round 1, which will kick it off for the Boundary Umpire squad nationwide.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
The list remains the same as in 2014. Word from WA suggests: The good: Brett Dalgleish, Adam Bastick, Cal Brown and Nathan Doig all getting through the time trial. The bad: Jace Collingridge has a niggle which hasn’t allowed him to run the time trial yet. Big effort by Nathan Doig who has been competing in ironman events over the summer months.

Written by AFL Boundary umpire, Shane Thiele