The 2023 AGM held on 5 February saw the AFLUA’s award winners announced.

Two awards are given in each discipline: the most promising first or second year umpire as recommended by the AFL Umpiring Department Coaching Panel, and the umpire of the year.

The Most Promising Field Umpire Award was given to Martin Roger. Martin was appointed to the AFL list in 2023, umpiring his first game in round one, Hawthorne vs Essendon at the MCG. He finished his debut season with 22 AFL matches under his belt.

The Bill Sutton Medallion for the most promising boundary umpire was awarded to Nick Phillips. Having joined the AFL list in 2022, he made his debut in the round one Hawthorne vs North Melbourne clash at the MCG and finished the season having done 20 matches. Nicks good form extended into 2023, where he umpires 23 matches, bringing his total to an impressive 43 AFL games in his first two years.

The Brian Pratt Medallion for the most promising goal umpire was awarded to Tom Sullivan. Tom was appointed to the AFL goal umpire list in 2022 and debuted in round three, umpiring the Brisbane vs North Melbourne game at the Gabba. In his first season he umpired fourteen matches and even secured selection in one final, earning him the Brian Pratt Medallion that year. This year he has secured the award again by umpiring a further 17 matches, bringing his total to 32.

The Umpire of the Year awards are presented by the AFLUA to those umpires in each discipline who, in the opinion of their peers, have achieved success in umpiring and have demonstrated involvement in AFLUA affairs.

The criteria for these awards include on-field success, active contribution, and support of the AFLUA, and the role modelling of commitment, loyalty, and dedication to their peers.

The Bishop Shield for field umpire of the year was awarded to Rob Findlay. Rob’s outstanding performances this year earned him his maiden AFL Grand Final and the All-Australian Field Umpire award. AFLUA President Chris Donlon said of Rob, “always meticulous in his preparation, and someone who exemplifies a team first mentality.”

The Murray Williams Shield for boundary umpire of the year was awarded to Chris Gordon. Having announced his retirement from umpiring, he brought his career to a fairy-tale conclusion. Chris’ 350th and final match was also his 7th AFL Grand Final, now supplemented by his back-to-back win of the Murray Williams Shield. Chris Donlon praised ‘Gordo’ for his “strong voice when advocating for the broader boundary group,” and “willingness to listen and provide feedback and support for various issues throughout the season.”

The Leigh Keen Shield for goal umpire of the year was awarded to Adam Wojcik. Adam umpired 21 matches in 2023, including his fifth AFL Grand Final. His performances were also recognised with All-Australian selection, restricting space in his wardrobe which already houses two other All-Australian blazers. Adam has also made very significant contributions to the AFLUA, having been a member since 2008. He joined the executive committee for 2016-2018, was awarded life membership in 2017, and held the office of vice president between 2020-2022.

Congratulations to each of the six award winners. Their achievement is a testament to the high regard they maintain among their fellow umpires and coaches, gained by impressive commitment and performance on and off the field.

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