Second only to the AFL Grand Final in size and prestige, the annual Anzac Day match between Essendon and Collingwood is one of the most anticipated days on the AFL calendar.

This year, Adam Wojcik (heritage #319) has earned the privilege of umpiring his 300th game in front of a packed MCG crowd on Anzac Day. In doing so, he will become the ninth goal umpire to reach the 300-game milestone, just one week after Chelsea Roffey notched up her own 300th.

Beginning his umpiring journey as a thirteen year-old with the Geelong Football League, he was initially introduced to it by a family friend as a more accessible way to participate in football. Having umpired the VFL grand final in 2007, elevation to the AFL came the following year, in the round 5 match between Melbourne and Carlton.

“I still remember the roar of the crowd when my first goal was kicked, and feeling proud walking out onto the hallowed turf of the MCG to do something that I had only dreamed of doing.”

Amongst Grand Finals, Anzac Day matches and exhibition games in New Zealand and China, he still looks back fondly on his debut as his most memorable game.

 Adam Wojcik comes from the field after a collision with Dustin Martin. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via AFL Photos)

To the public however, Wojcik is probably best known for his bravery, standing amongst jostling crowds of players desperately attempting goal-line spoils. Most notably, he is probably the only umpire to receive a standing ovation. This occurred after he wore an impressive shirt-front from Dustin Martin in 2021. Nursing a dislocated shoulder, Wojcik sprung up off the ground, signalled a goal review and – not until the goal was officially paid and his duty fulfilled – stoically walked off the ground to an uproarious applause from the crowd.

Wojcik has carved out an outstanding career in the AFL behind the goals. The exceptional quality of his umpiring is demonstrated by the awards he’s received across his 16 years in the job.

In his debut season he won the Brian Pratt Medallion for most promising first or second year goal umpire, an indication of things to come. Wojcik would go on to umpire five AFL Grand Finals (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2023), become a triple recipient of the Leigh Keen Shield (2015, 2018, 2023), and win selection as the All-Australian goal umpire three times (2015, 2016, 2023).

One of the most experienced umpires in the league, Wojcik’s approach to the game reflects his familiarity with the high-pressure role.

“I am pretty relaxed about games. Whilst the nerves are still there no matter how big the game, I try to remain calm and composed and focus on the job I need to do. It is important to stay up to date with rule and procedure changes and be clear in your head what you need to do before walking out on the ground.”

For Wojcik, the most challenging part of the game is “making sure that your concentration levels don’t waiver during the game”, even if scoring is slow at his end.

“[I]n games that perhaps aren’t keeping you interested from a scoring perspective, you need to remember that you hardest decision of the game could still be the come. So do whatever it takes to keep your mind focused on the game and ball at all times.”

On advice to aspiring umpires, Wojcik is clear: “be patient.”

“Umpiring at the AFL is a privilege and an honour, not just a given. It is something you have to work hard to achieve, through consistent on field performances. Whilst you are likely to not always agree with the coaches, you need to heed their advice, which will all culminate to help you achieve the success if you want it.”

“Fundamentally our role hasn’t changed that much. It is important to remember that we are doing this job because we love what we do and that is one of the main reasons I am still umpiring now.”

The AFLUA would like to congratulate Adam on his achievement and wish him luck for his milestone game.


Article by Jackson Kerr

Related Posts