One of the many endearing qualities of our most recent milestone recipient, Nick Wade is that he knows how to not take himself too seriously. “With the retirement of John Morris, I am now officially the oldest bloke on the list and very happy to say so and take over that mantle,” exclaimed Nick with a laugh. I’m not sure that there would be too many other people on the list wanting bragging rights about that status!
“I’m incredibly humble to have achieved my 100 game milestone, I know it pales into insignificance when you stack it up against all of our retirees careers, but when I was offered my first contract in 2012, I remember Ashley Sandison (AFL boundary umpires coach) saying it was probably only going to be for 12 months. He rang me during the week and we had a good laugh about it.”
Nick becomes the 352nd VFL/AFL umpire to achieve the milestone. He is the 134th boundary umpire but more significantly only the 4th boundary umpire from Queensland to achieve the feat. “I certainly have the umpiring department to thank for getting me to the mark and the opportunity to run in 22 games this season. Plenty of other umpires also played their part, especially my fellow Qlders. It was humbling to receive all those messages of congratulations.”
When asked about his attributes Nick is open and honest, “There are a lot better umpires who umpired less games, and were more talented athletes, I just gave it 100% effort for 100% of the time because I knew my time to shine was to be short lived.” Boundary umpiring legend Darren Wilson once said of Nick after a summer training camp, “If others put in as much and tried as hard as Nick they’d be much better umpires.”
Nick understands the opportunity he was given. “I was 39 years old when I was offered my first contract. Grant Kent gave me the opportunity when he put my name forward as the “next best umpire” in Queensland. He just backed me in and has always supported me 100% of the way, and it feels great to reward that trust. “
For Nick, nothing beats umpiring with his mates and the match day experience. “We come together each week from diverse backgrounds but unite for a common, often unspoken goal. We can’t achieve it on our own, we need our team mates support. That’s what makes it so special.” The toughest hurdle for Nick was learning to trust in his own ability to get the job done. “In the first couple of years I wasn’t sure if I deserved to be on the list. I had to prove it to myself first.” That is what Nick has done with the AFL continuing to support him with a new contract each year.
“I remember my 50th game like it was yesterday. I’m not sure where the past couple of years have gone, to be honest. Football has become part of my routine.” Nick stops mid sentence and laughs, “You know I am a perennial late changer and I’m never on time. I constantly amaze others as to how much I can achieve in that last 5 minutes before we walk. Aaron wasn’t happy with me on Saturday because he was up trying to talk about my milestone with a few minutes to go and I was still tying my shoelaces!”
Nick, it is a significant milestone because you have made it one. You have never taken it for granted and you have valued your place on the list like few others. Enjoy the moment.
Article written by: AFLUA CEO, Peter Howe