Field umpires, Chris Donlon and Shaun Ryan were inducted as AFL Life Members at the AFL 2018 Season Launch at the Forum Theatre. Both umpires joined 8 other recipients, Steve Johnson, Jordan Lewis, Andrew Mackie, Rex Hunt, Eddie Betts, Kade Simpson and Michael Long.
Shaun has umpired 282 AFL senior games, 35 pre-season games and 6 grand finals. Chris has umpired 268 AFL senior games, 33 pre-season games, 14 finals and the 2011 grand final.
Chris began his career in the Moorabbin Saints Football league in 1990. He moved the the VAFA in 1993 umpiring two grand finals and winning the golden whistle award for being the umpire most likely to succeed (and he did).
Chris moved to the VFL Development Panel in 1997, umpiring the TAC Cup grand final in 1999 following a successful under 16 National Championship in the same year. The year 2000 saw Chris progress to the National Under 18 Carnival and umpire senior VFL football. He umpired the 2001 VFL reserve grade grand final, another TAC Cup GF in 2003 and the prize in 2004, the VFL senior grand final.
Chris began his AFL senior career in 2005 in the round 4 clash between Hawthorn and Brisbane. He shared the stage on that occasion with two very experienced campaigners, Stuart Wenn and Martin Ellis. Chris umpired his first final in 2008, his second in 2010 but had a breakout season in 2011 where he umpired four finals including the grand final with Brett Rosebury and fellow life member inductee, Shaun Ryan.
Shaun began his career as an umpire in 1992 in the Warrnambool and District Umpires Association. He moved from Warrnambool to the Geelong Football Umpires League in 1994. As his legal studies brought him closer to Melbourne Shaun joined the VFL panel in 1997 where he umpired until 2002. In that time he umpired in the National under 16’s in 1998 and the Under 18’s in 2001.
Shaun’s first AFL game came as a real surprise when he came on to replace an injured Bryan Sheehan in round 1 2003. He umpired his first final in 2004 and the first of his 6 grand finals in 2008. Shaun retired prematurely from umpiring at the end of 2011 under the weight of a blossoming legal career and a young family. It is history now that Hayden Kennedy and Wayne Campbell talked him into having another foray into elite umpiring in 2015, culminating in his AFL life membership and his 6th grand final.
Congratulations to both men on outstanding careers.