Here is a quirky one to start this weeks observations. Did Ben Ryan not hear the call from Luke Hodge yesterday which meant that the coin had to be tossed again or was it that the coin tosser used a “lucky coin” with two heads? Either way there appears to be a strange phenomenon these days with the coin needing to be tossed for a second time, there was the one time last season when captains had to pick the hand that held the whistle, there was even a “paper rock scissors” game when nobody had a coin a few years ago. I noted with interest that Bindi and Robert Irwin from Australia Zoo tossed the coin last Thursday night in the Brisbane v Richmond game.
Field umpire Andrew Stephens umpired his first AFL game this round. Andrew is the 430th field umpire to officiate in a VFL/AFL game. Andrew who is currently based in Brisbane umpired the Brisbane v. Richmond game last Thursday night. Andrew who has been on the rookie list for two seasons was promoted to the full list in March this season. Andrew becomes just the third field umpire in the AFL since the turn of the century to make his AFL debut from Queensland. Jason Baldwin (2002-03) 19 games and current listed umpire Ben Ryan (2011 – ) who currently has 47 games of AFL experience are the other two.
Andrew has a very simple philosophy of allowing the game to unfold and only get involved when a free kick is warranted. While he said he would be nervous until he walked onto the ground, when he bounced the ball to start the game it was all systems go. “The pace was quick but there was certainly a lot more happening than in any NAB Cup game I have experienced. My feedback was generally positive,” reflected Andrew following his performance.
Boundary umpire Tim Lougoon, who originally comes from Bendigo, umpired his first AFL game on Sunday in the Melbourne v. Gold Coast Suns match. Tim is the 559th boundary umpire to officiate in a VFL/AFL game. Tim said it was “an awesome experience, I probably ran on adrenaline for three quarters. I got to the ground two hours before the bounce, stood in the middle of the ground and took it all in.” He certainly didn’t have that time when the game was in full swing. “I came off at half-time looking for petrol tickets but I settled into the game in the 3rd quarter OK.” Tim did say that the pace of the game was certainly a step up from the VFL even with four boundary umpires. “I have pulled up pretty sore today, I am sure it was because of all of the backwards running involved in the four umpire system. It is something that I will have to get used to.” So what was Tim looking forward to this week? “Another run on the “G” on Saturday night.” Well done Tim.