At the halfway mark of the season some umpires are looking for a well earned respite break, even for one week, and if only for a mental release from the pressure that is AFL football. With only three umpires (Courtney Lai, Chris Gordon and Matthew Mckenzie) on the injury list, the umpiring department will take the opportunity to rest any umpire who is carrying any niggling injury or might be a little fatigued.
Don’t mention the “R” word to Stephen McBurney though, he missed the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury and now sits on 391 games, 9 short of the coveted 400, which will make Stephen only the third umpire in VFL/AFL history to make that mark. Current AFL umpires coaches, Hayden Kennedy (495 games) and Rowan Sawers (410 games) currently sit above him.
Shane McInerney has now moved into 6th place overall with 364 games, passing the recently inducted hall of fame member, Bryan Sheehan (363)
Goal umpire, Mark Canning has moved into 6th place on the all time number of games list with 291 games behind, Steve Stirling (304), Charles Bell (310), Colin Hood (311) Craig Clark (334) and David Flegg (337). David Dixon (285 games) is closing rapidly and still at the peak of his form.
Darren Wilson, SA based boundary umpire has moved further away as the leading games holder in VFL/AFL history (345 games). Next of the current running umpires is SA colleague, Mark Thomson who is now into 8th place on the all time list with (268 games). John Morris moved into 13th place with (245 games) and another SA boundary Jonathan Creasey is in 14th place with 238 games.
At the other end of the list new goal umpires, Dale Puren (6 games), Michael Palm (7) and Luke Edwards (5) are looking to perform at every opportunity that they get. They have all settled well into the coaching and training routine and have made the transition from state league to AFL with seamless ease.
Field umpires Tristan Burgess (6 games), Leigh Fisher (7) in their first season on the list are being managed by the umpiring department with appointments to one or two AFL games and then back to the VFL or NEAFL to continue learning their craft.
Matthew Mckenzie has been battling injury in his first season on the boundary panel and has only run in seven games. Scott Gordon in his first year has 10 games and looking forward to the learning that comes from every game he gets.