The ANZAC round of AFL was the second highest single round attendance in history. 391,980 fans turned out across the 9 games of round 5. Monday night’s ANZAC day eve clash between Richmond and Melbourne was the biggest crowd between the two sides in over 110 seasons. 85,657 packed the MCG which was also a big occasion for goal umpire Dylan Benwell, who was making his AFL debut. Dylan now holds the record for the highest attendance on debut. His first goal was a Jack Riewoldt snap from the boundary at the Richmond end of the MCG. Dylan said it was a special game and one he is still pinching himself about. Dylan was awarded heritage number 345.

Leigh Haussen also made his AFL debut in the Western Bulldogs Vs Brisbane match. Leigh has previously come off the bench to officiate in an AFL match but this was his first official appointed match. Leigh was awarded heritage number 436.

Three umpires returned to the field for the first time in 2017. WA goal umpire Sally Boud (tendonitis), Vic boundary umpire Ian Burrows (appendicitis) and QLD boundary umpire Drew Kowalski (Hamstring). Drew’s comeback has been a long journey after several injuries curtailed the second half of last year as well. Josh Mather was back after missing one week due to being assaulted outside his home.

It was also a big weekend for Michael Palm. Not only was he appointed to umpire in his first ANZAC day match between Essendon and Collingwood, he and his wife Heather welcomed their second child Hunter Jett Palm into the world on Saturday night. All are doing extremely well.

Five other umpires joined Michael in their first ANZAC appointment. Field umpires Dean Margetts & Chris Kamolins and boundary umpires James Scully, Jason Moore and Tim Lougoon. Mitch Lefevre and Mat Nicholls have umpired two ANZAC appointments whilst goal umpire Luke Walker now has 4 ANZAC clashes under his belt.

We take time to remember Jeff Milne who passed away suddenly last week. Jeff coached the NSW based AFL goal umpires in 2015 and was the NEAFL goal umpires coach in NSW. Our wishes are with his family.

Written by: AFLUA Marketing and Communications Intern, Chris Gordon

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