Some fifty young Down Syndrome participants and their siblings got the thrill of a lifetime when they got to have a “kick on the G” prior to the Melbourne v GWS match on Sunday. The AFL, MCC and Apricot Consulting got on the front foot to organise the third annual grid game. Chris Donlon drove the agenda, umpire’s boss, Grant Williams, like his predecessors, Peter Schwab, Luke Ball and Wayne Campbell umpired one match, while the son of Jack McBurney, Oscar umpired the other. Melbourne players made a surprise visit to the games and brought them to a premature halt with eager kids wanting photographs and a kick to kick with the AFL stars.
Congratulations to all of our chaperones, trainers and umpires who go out of their way to make this program one of the hidden gems of the AFL season.
Justin Schmitt and Troy Pannell stepped out onto the MCG on Saturday afternoon for their last AFL games. Families, friends and umpires were in attendance to ensure the guys went out in style. The group kicked on well into the night at a venue in Melbourne reminiscing the great times they had.
Chris Roberts led the umpires off the MCG after his final game on Sunday after the Melbourne v GWS clash holding the match ball. It was a fitting gesture to Chris who has also retired. Many of Chris’ colleagues and family were there to send Chris off in style.
Boundary and goal umpires continued to travel extensively this season. It was great to see Drew Kowalski from Queensland, out on the MCG partnering Chris in his retirement game. Brett Rogers umpired the season’s last game at Etihad Stadium before jumping back on a plane to Perth.