History was made on Sunday 23 November, when two of our highest awards had joint winners for the first time.
Luke Walker and Chris Appleton tied for the Leigh Keen Shield after voting by their peers for the goal umpire of the year. Likewise, veteran Justin Schmitt and the retiring Stuart Wenn tied for the Bishop Shield as the best field umpires for 2014.
Luke Walker won his third Leigh Keen Shield (2011,2013, 2014) while it was Chris’ first win in the award. In announcing the joint winners David Dixon, himself a winner of the award in 2010 , pointed to their complimentary personalities and total commitment and support of goal umpiring and goal umpires on the AFL list.
Justin Schmitt won his second Bishop Shield (2006, 2014) while it was Stuart’s first award win. The announcement by the 2013 winner, Chris Kamolins brought a ringing round of applause for both men. Justin supported the group through his role on the leadership group and was a driver of the New York study tour, while Stuart’s tireless work on the CBA over the past four years was recognised as was his work mentoring our young umpires.
Grand Final boundary umpire, Ian Burrows won his first Murray Williams Shield as the best boundary umpire in 2014. Ian was an executive member in 2014 and a strong supporter of boundary umpires at the executive level.
Leigh Fisher was crowned the most promising first or second year field umpire. Michael Craig was presented with the Brian Pratt medal as the most promising goal umpire and Damien Cusack was presented with the Bill Sutton medal as the most promising boundary umpire.
We took the time to remember the careers of our retiring umpires and presented three life members, Mark Canning, Chris Morrison and Stuart Wenn with their retirement presentations. Canning and Wenn had served AFL football at the elite level for 20 plus years and Morrison had given 11 years of service amassing over 860 AFL games between them. We wish them all the best in retirement.
Life memberships were presented to Ray Chamberlain, Matt Stevic and Luke Walker. Honorary life membership was bestowed on Mark Foster. Additional life memberships will be bestowed on Rob Haala, Daniel Wilson, Chelsea Roffey and Simon Meredith in February. Honorary life membership will also be presented to Frank Knight.