School holidays mean a lot to our teaching colleagues, they can simply pack up and head home. What makes these holidays especially sweet for boundary umpire Shane Thiele is that he gets to umpire his 100th game in his old home state. “The SA guys have bent over backwards to help me achieve the milestone in SA and to do it in a showdown is even better,” said an excited Shane today when we called. Did we interrupt anything important? “No I was just watching Fox Sports News, I’m already home and kicking back.”
Shane umpired three SANFL grand finals, but in the shadows of the SA legends, Wilson, Creasey and Thomson and it was extremely tough to break into AFL ranks. “I worked so hard just to get a look in, there is no way I’m going to let this opportunity slip,” reflected Shane when he first made the AFL panel.
So it came as no surprise when he announced he was heading to Melbourne to get more opportunities to umpire. He and his wife Claire, made the leap of faith and in Shane’s own words, “It was better than we even thought it would be.”
“My first game as a Melbourne based umpire was round 1 Easter Monday, Geelong v Hawthorn 2013. There was more than 70,000 people there to witness the game. It was amazing to be involved in.”
Shane has lost his Adelaide “twang” and he and Claire are expecting their first child later this year. “I can’t believe I’m having a Victorian child?” said Shane in a throw away comment.
Shane knows that it was the teaching of those SA legends who taught him how to become an accomplished boundary umpire. Simon Leigh has taken up the role as his Melbourne coach, himself a South Australian, who understands Shane’s strengths and weaknesses.
“The Melbourne boundary group are a fantastic lot. They are dynamic. They are different ages, come from different backgrounds but work so well together for a common goal.”
This will be Shane’s fifth showdown, his first in four years and no doubt with family and friends coming to the game, it will be his sweetest.