I would like to think that all milestone matches will be as memorable as that one was on Thursday night. “Adelaide v Collingwood in front of 50,000 screaming fans. The noise was loud, it was an amazing atmosphere, I couldn’t want for anything more,” said an elated Heath today as he walked with his wife Danielle and son Harrison into the Adelaide zoo. He had brought his family, including his mother and father across to Adelaide to help celebrate his milestone.
“When I did my first game (Geelong v Melbourne 2008) if someone had said, now all you want is 100, I’d have said yes straight away,” reflected Heath.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Heath, who was elevated to the AFL senior panel for 2 days back in 2007. “It was probably the toughest period of my life and my delisting wasn’t even performance based.” An administrative error through the misunderstanding of the collective bargaining agreement meant that Heath had to cool his heels back in the VFL until his “real” elevation to the panel in 2008. “Every cloud has a silver lining. Going through that process made me even more determined and hungry to make the list,” mused Heath.
Heath has had his fair share of injuries and misfortune, thankfully most of it in the pre-season. Fortunately he hasn’t missed many games from injury. This season he is managing an achillies problem which means he can’t normally train with the group on a Monday which has been frustrating.
Heath works for the YMCA as a personal trainer. “It fits in perfectly with my football commitments and gives me a good work, life balance.” Heath, as a young man was a very good all-round sportsman and still finds time to play golf where he is currently off a single figure handicap of 9.
Heath notes last night as one of his most enjoyable games along with the Showdown last year when Port Adelaide came back from a long way down in the last quarter to snatch an amazing win. “I have umpired a couple of Dreamtime at the G games which also brings an amazing atmosphere.”
One of the smaller statured men of the umpires’ panel he goes about his footy with a minimum of fuss but is as passionate about it today as he was way back in 2007. His confidants are few, but they are life-long. Fellow field umpires “Chris Kamolins and Scott Jeffery are rated by Heath as great men to bounce things off.
Roll on the next 100 games.
Pictured: AFL Field Umpire – Heath Ryan