The first thing you notice about chatting with Chris Gordon (Gordo) is that his smile immediately disarms you and you relax into his company with ease.
I walked away from our conversation however, with a completely different mindset about what makes Gordo tick. You see, take out his first season in 2009 and his injury interrupted season in 2013 and Gordo has finished in the top 5 boundary umpires every other year. He was the emergency grand final umpire in 2010,2012 and 2014. His 150 games include 12 finals and the 2011 grand final.
So is he unlucky? “I feel blessed to be in that position. To sit the bench or umpire a grand final, I’d take that every day of the week.”
Gordo says that consistency is his greatest asset but that starts very early in the pre-season phase. “I don’t compromise my preparation. The fundamentals remain the same and in my view they are the keys to success. Summer training is critical and then as the season progresses you have to manage your body. Darren Wilson umpired 10 grand finals in a row, he said umpiring a GF is like a drug, you get a whiff of it and you will do anything to get that feeling back.”
“When you are running in the cold during the depths of winter you have to remind yourself of what it was like to be involved on that day and you just put your head down and go harder. It is a matter of attitude.”
Gordo has modelled himself on another very successful boundary umpire, Adam Coote. “When I came onto the panel in ’09 Adam was the prototype of a successful boundary umpire. He was a big powerful lad, I watched him closely when I went to the footy. He was unstoppable, his ability to chase down the footy was awesome.”
Gordo has a very strict weekly regime to get himself into good shape for a weekend. The hours he spends away from training nights preparing himself is second to none. “When I know what game I have the coming week, I structure my week to include swimming, weights and massage. It is a bit anal I know but it is what works for me.”
Gordo, if that formula is what works for you and you get to that final 5 each year, there will be many more boundary umpires who will start to model themselves on the “next powerful lad who chases down the footy.” Congratulations on your 150.
Pictured: AFL Boundary Umpire – Chris Gordon