One of the first things that struck me about Tim Lougoon was his resilience and mental toughness. Tim recalls that he got a call up from then AFL boundary umpire Technical Consultant, Keith Norman on the eve of his round one VFL game in 2014 and asked if he wanted an AFL contract. “What do you think I said?” laughed Tim this afternoon. Three more runs in the VFL, some intense coaching and Tim walked onto the MCG in round 5 to umpire Melbourne v Gold Coast. Nothing seemed to phase him. He just took everything in his stride.
Rewind to some bitterly cold Bendigo training nights as a young 16 year old who by his own admission is a “solid runner” is appointed to his first Bendigo Football League senior grand final. Something he achieved each year for the next 5 years. “There was a core group of 18 to 20 year olds who were umpiring TAC Cup and VFL reserves football each weekend as well as senior Bendigo footy so it was very competitive.”
Tim would travel to Melbourne one night a week to train with the VFL from 2008 until the end of 2010. “I would catch a train after uni down to Southern Cross and then get out to Victoria Park. Depending on what time training finished I would get back into Bendigo at either 10.15pm or 11.15pm.” This was a tough regime even for the most mentally strong. University studies morphed into work, Tim is a civil engineer, and something had to give. “I couldn’t keep going at the pace I had set for myself. My first year of work was in 2011, I had to give the VFL away.” Tim umpired locally and was rewarded with his 6th Bendigo League grand final.
“In 2012 I was in the process of changing jobs and moving to Melbourne, I had only missed a year on the VFL list but had to earn my stripes and go through the trial process. It just made me commit and work harder. I think it helped because Matt Vitiritti, the VFL boundary coach, himself a Bendigo boy, pushed me very hard.”
A VFL grand final in 2012 didn’t result in an AFL contract so it was back to work even harder in the VFL. “Matt made us work very hard so we didn’t become complacent.” It had an impact. Back to back in 2013 and the contract offer was made in March 2014.
“In VFL reserves and TAC cup games I was comfortable in the environment because I’d been doing those games in Bendigo for three or four years and no doubt the senior footy and travel all hardened me. I can’t match it on the track with “Mara” (Michael Marantelli) and the like, but I think I read the game well and that is my strength.”
Tim has his fondest memories of the “Freeze at the G” game last year between Melbourne and Collingwood. “It was what the game stood for and the whole community got around it. We walked onto the ground wearing those beanies as a show of support. It was amazing to be part of football on that day.”
Article written by: AFLUA CEO, Peter Howe