Justin Schmitt qualified for AFL life membership when he umpired the Hawthorn v. Collingwood match in round 14. Justin has umpired 271 home and away games plus practice matches and overseas exhibition matches bringing his total to 300. Congratulations Justin.
Our injured umpires continue to rehabilitate strongly. Currently, field umpires, Heath Ryan, Stuart Wenn and Brendan Hosking are recovering from leg injuries and Simon Meredith is recovering from a bleed on the brain. Add Courtney Lai who is back umpiring periodically in the TAC competition and the number on the list is climbing without the winter sniffles some of our boundary umpires are suffering from.
Rookie field umpire Ben Lehner has missed a week of footy following the removal of his wisdom teeth after the Tasmania v NEAFL state game two weeks ago. Ben combined with another AFL Rookie, Brent Pawley and Tasmanian umpire Sam Cure to umpire the game. Ex-AFL boundary umpire, Nick Liparota ran the boundary representing the NEAFL panel. Brent had a whirlwind week coming off his last quarter effort in the Sydney v Port Adelaide game when he replaced Simon Meredith to backup in the state game.
All of the umpires were decked out in blue in support of “One sight,” a not for profit organisation who helps all Australians get affordable eye care for this weekends round of footy. I’m not sure how many layers of clothing goal umpires Michael Hammond and Adam Wojcik wore under their long sleeve shirts in Launceston on Saturday but without weather proof jackets and the near freezing conditions they may well still be frozen.
All Melbourne based field umpires met for a 6.30am rehab session at the St Kilda sea baths Monday morning. Changing up the mid-season training with something different certainly had the boys chirping, a few of the more lightly built boys may have struggled in the early morning climate and Port Phillip Bay.