Family tradition often dictates what walk of life a youngster follows. So spare a thought for Josh Mather because umpiring was in his blood before he could walk. He had no options but to follow in his grand father’s footsteps, AFLUA life member, George and those of his father, Mark. “Dad umpired four or five Western Region Division One grand finals as a field umpire,” laughed Josh today when we spoke about his footy background. “I played junior footy on a Sunday and ran a reserves game on one side of the boundary with my brother, Tim on a Saturday. I started umpiring when I was 11 years old, it was in the family.”
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Josh. While he umpired the Div. One grand final at the WRFL in 2010 and went to the VFL development panel in 2011, six games into 2012 he had a car crash that saw him on the sidelines for eight months. “I had disc bulges in my spine and a lot of neck stress when my head hit the roof of the car.”
“I was lucky, Matt Vitiritti my VFL coach said I had done enough in 2012 to stay on the senior VFL list. I went into the finals that year probably ranked thirteen or fourteen and came out of the finals ranked two.” Josh only started thinking about an AFL career then but had to wait until December to know that he was given the green light.
“Coming onto the list in 2014 was an amazing feeling. It was unreal to be given the news by Sando. All of the guys on the Victorian panel got around me but Tim Morrison, who I knew from the Western Region, was great as was Matt Tomkins.”
Looking forward Josh would like to think that 2016 has been his best year so far and at a stretch he hopes to by vying for finals at the end of the year. “The list is really competitive I’ll see how I go,” was his thoughtful reply.
Josh had his first experience of a marquee game just last weekend. “The pre game ceremony had me fired up. It was an amazing experience.”
Josh, keep it simple and keep working hard and who knows what’s around the corner for you.
Article written by: AFLUA CEO, Peter Howe