Spare a thought for Dean Margetts next time you pack your suitcase for a trip to Perth, or indeed anywhere on a plane. Since 2002 when Dean umpired his first AFL game he has packed his bags 154 times to head across the Nullarbor to fulfil his dream to umpire AFL football.
“I have never even thought about it really because it is what I have to do to be involved in the greatest game on earth,” said Dean as we chatted today in his Melbourne Hotel. Dean will stay in Melbourne this week to attend training tomorrow night and participate in a Development Managers conference on Wednesday. Dean heads up umpire development in Western Australia, something he is also very passionate about.
“I was given my chance to umpire AFL football because my umpires coach at the time, Greg Scroop saw something in me. He challenged us. There were a few of us who he believed had the talent to umpire. Guys like Fussell, Hendrie, Corcoran and myself were given every opportunity to make the grade. It is my role now to unearth the next crop of young talent.”
When Dean walked onto the ground on Sunday in the Collingwood v GWS game he became the 25th field umpire to umpire 250 VFL/AFL games. He is one of a few interstate-based field umpires who have been so successful for so long. Grant Vernon (WA) umpired 203 games. Greg Scroop (WA) did 129. Michael Avon (SA) umpired 179 games.
His 2012 win in the Bishop Shield (the highest AFLUA honour awarded to a field umpire) voted by his peers as the best performed on field and most supportive off field gave Dean a much needed boost and the self confidence that he is accepted by his peers despite the 3000 km distance between Perth and Melbourne. “The only negative of living in Perth is my inability to forge better face to face relationships with my coaches which is important to me.”
Dean’s toughest trip is the one home from Melbourne after a day game. “Two hours after the game I am on a plane. I am sore and can’t spend a lot of time sitting down. If I have a night game and don’t go until the next day it is certainly easier to rehab. However, I am a no excuses umpire, I subscribe to the Ross Lyon mantra, anywhere, anytime.”
“I had a great day with Stevic and Bannister yesterday, those guys are as lay back as I am. We had a good laugh with first year umpire Curtis Deboy and all thoroughly enjoyed the day.