Umpiring your first AFL game is always a highlight of an umpire’s career, so when Steve Piperno was appointed to his first AFL final, it was another positive step forward in only his second year on the list.
“I was very excited to be appointed to the finals panel,” said Steve. “I was mindful that l didn’t perform at my best in 2015, so this year l was determined to perform well and reward those who’d put so much faith into me.”
Steve joined two other umpires in officiating their first AFL final – Damien Cusack and Chris Kamolins. “It was great sharing my finals debut with Damien and Chris and being part of their big night too. There was a lot of excitement and nervous energy in the rooms beforehand.”
Steve approached his final like any other game, so as not to put any added pressure on himself. He acknowledged the responsibility a final brings in that you have an added duty to perform well and you are also representing your goal umpire colleagues.
A final anywhere is a great experience but a final in Adelaide brings with it a crowd that is parochial and extremely loud. “It’s an amazing venue and the way the crowd hangs off every act of play is amazing. It was also noticeable that the intensity picked up, finals football is a different ball game.”
He admits to thinking about several of the players in his match preparation and what influence they might have on a game. “I did think about Eddie Betts. He’s an amazing player, he’s unpredictable in an exciting way and the crowd goes nuts every time he touches the ball. I reminded myself to be extra prepared when he got anywhere near the ball.”
Steve has finished his finals campaign for season 2016 and is already looking forward to what season 2017 might bring.
Well done Steve on a great finish to the season!