When you grow up in a family that eats, drinks and lives footy, with a father, Noel, that played 57 games for Richmond between 1975 and 1979, then a further 6 for South Melbourne in the VFL it is all about being down the local park kicking a footy with your dad and brothers, going to every game and barracking for your dad’s team. Footy was always going to play a part in Matthew Jenkinson’s life! His first major milestone, 100 games, makes Matt the 134th boundary umpire to reach that milestone. He is now establishing a place inside the boundary fence that is his own.
By his own admission, Matt took up umpiring for a little additional cash. “I worked the scoreboard for Mazenod Footy Club, one day the reserves boundary umpire didn’t turn up. I was offered $10 more plus a hot dog to run the boundary in the reserves and do the scoreboard in the seniors. It was a no brainer really,” laughed Matt when we spoke about how he got into umpiring. “I did that for two years, starting as a 14-year-old and then moved to the VAFA, I was told that they made even more money! Three years there and then it was off to the VFL. I loved it.”
Matt by his own admission never thought about changing to field umpiring or for that matter even aspiring to a career in the AFL as an umpire. “It never occurred to me that I could have a career in the AFL until sitting in the change rooms at the VFL listening to my coach, Peter Bradford congratulating two umpires for getting AFL contracts. It was that moment I realised that becoming an AFL umpire was a realistic goal.”
Matt spent 5 years working through the ranks in the VFL. He umpired the 2011 Senior VFL grand final and was offered a 2012 AFL contract.
“When the AFL added 2 new teams, GWS and GCS, four new boundary umpires were recruited from the VFL, Tomkins, Bergroth, Esler and myself. We certainly have a competitive rivalry both on and off the track. Matt Tomkins has probably just taken the lead, with two grand finals,” he laughed.
Matt has had to put another of his passions aside for his footy career. “I have traveled the world skiing in Austria, America Switzerland, and Whistler in Canada. Growing up I spent many family holidays at Mt Buller, but that now all has to wait until after umpiring.”
“My father has been my biggest influence in footy. He drove me to training and games as a young boundary and still comes to the footy with me now. We talk about the game and the tactics, the players and of course the performance of the umpires.”
Matt is not one to get into the politics of footy, he is self-driven and has a want to be the best. “My best asset is my composure. I don’t get flustered by the crowd the noise or the players. I listen to my coaches and just work hard to get the job done.”
It’s a very simple philosophy Matt that works for you. Congratulations on your first 100 games.