“Better late than never” certainly applies to Chris Delany who was recently appointed to the AFL Boundary Squad in Queensland.
Chris was one of three boundary umpires from the NEAFL under consideration for the spare spot on the AFL list and the announcement of his appointment at the start of the week was quickly following up with an appointment to his first AFL game in the Gold Coast Suns v Melbourne at the Gabba on Saturday.
Chris started umpiring in 2007 and made his NEAFL debut towards the end of 2012. In 2013, he joined the state umpiring group in Brisbane and was rewarded with the QAFL grand final in 2014. In 2016, in what was his first full year umpiring with the NEAFL, Chris was appointed to the 2016 NEAFL grand final. In 2017, he umpired the 2017 national championships and the 2017 NEAFL preliminary final.
Missing out on the 2017 NEAFL grand final was what defined Chris’s off-season and was a wake-up call for what was required if he was going to advance his career.
Chris has been influenced by a lot of people during his career to date. He set himself a goal to run with every QLD NEAFL/AFL boundary umpire at least once over the off-season and to absorb as much as he could from each person. He looks up to Aaron Deckys as someone who sets such a high standard for boundary umpires over a long period of time.
The most influential person to kick starting his career was Mark Turner who helped him believe he was capable of doing the training required and helped him learn what to do on his off-nights and how to get the best out of himself on training nights. Chris admits Mark believed in him long before he believed in himself.
Once learning what was required, Chris has spent most of his off-season with Cameron Ward (past Queensland AFL boundary umpire) and Chris Melin (current NEAFL field umpire). “Cameron and Chris are the reason l was out there for every session and they taught me to enjoy running.” As an observer in 2017, Cameron has been able to guide me in areas where he could improve and Chris focused on those during the course of the season. He acknowledged the impact that Chris has had on his training which has added to his enjoyment during what can be a long season.
Chris also wanted to thank and acknowledge Nick Swanson who has been with him every step of the way, be it at training or in providing support when times are tough.
Chris also acknowledged the support of his family and friends. “My dad has stayed involved in my umpiring, every week asking me how my games are going, watching games when he can and providing encouragement and positive reinforcement along the way.”
His advice to up and coming umpires is to utilise the people around you as it is much easier if you have someone to help you and join you for the journey. Umpires are very supportive, given the environment so they are more than willing to provide assistance to new umpires.
Chris is an engineer at Water Technology and works within the water resources / stormwater management team. He spends his spare time with family and friends, playing touch footy and video games.
Welcome to the AFL Chris. We wish you all the best for the year ahead.
Article written by: AFLUA Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Peter Kelly