There have been some recent cases of umpires returning to the AFL after redeeming themselves with outstanding officiating back in state league football.

One example is field umpire Craig Fleer, who has recently made the move to Melbourne from Adelaide after an outstanding 2015 season umpiring in the SANFL that included a Grand Final.

He viewed his year away from the AFL as not one in the wilderness.

“It was probably more of a year to get life back in order, I couldn’t move across the previous year (due to) family reasons,” said Fleer.

“Once all that was cleared out, it obviously paved the way (for me) to keep umpiring and umpiring well then make my way over here.

“You’ve just got go to back to just enjoying footy again because being in the AFL as great as it is, it’s high pressure, its high stress and you’ve got a lot of scrutiny on you.”

Just like AFL players themselves, there’s frustration and sadness that comes when an umpire is delisted.

Enjoying umpiring again at a lower level helped Fleer to stay positive and focus on a return to officiating at AFL level.

“To go back to state league level, it’s actually a bit of a release (because) you can enjoy umpiring and you can enjoy the environment that you’re in,” said Fleer.

“The most important thing that I found last year was to enjoy every game that I could do.”

Away from umpiring, Craig’s an electrician but intends to spend more time on the golf course now that he’s in Melbourne.

Many of the wider umpiring fraternity are regular golfers, but playing with the likes of Mat Nicholls is something he isn’t ready for.

“All my tools are back in South Australia, they will be coming across eventually but I think the only tool I’m hoping to pick up is a golf club for the next 12 months.

“I don’t think I’ll be venturing out to play with Mat just yet, I’ve got to start working on my game (first).”

Article written by: Ben Carbonaro