In this day and age of statistics and on the eve of another finals series it might be studious to look at what history tells us about umpire selection and finals.
The oft used expression attributed to British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, “Lies, damn lies and statistics allows us to do anything we want with the stats to get the result we want. So here we go!
When you look at the composition of the current field umpires panel (32 umpires) nineteen of them have had finals experience. With 59% of the panel already having finals experience, this makes selection for finals very cut throat. Then you consider that nine of those have umpired a grand final and it makes it even tougher to get the nod in any year.
The average age of a finals umpire on debut is 29 years 2 months. Brett Rosebury was the youngest to debut of the current list at age 23, with the oldest being Troy Pannell at age 35. Of the nine current listed grand final umpires, their average age on debut in a grand final was 32 years, 7 months. The youngest debutant was again Brett Rosebury, who debuted in 2009 aged 29. The oldest to debut was Simon Meredith in 2012 at 37.
Twenty of the current boundary umpires panel (42 umpires) or 47% of the panel have finals experience and 10 of those have umpired a grand final. This also makes a finals debut very competitive. Noises coming from the rumour mill have already conceded that some very well performed and highly credentialed boundary umpires might miss a finals berth with the gap closing between the young up and comers and the more experienced seasoned campaigners.
Among our goal panel 10 of the 27 listed umpires have previous finals experience (37%). Six of those have been there on grand final day.
It is tougher getting to a final as a goal umpire with only 8 being selected on the finals panel each year or 29% of the list. Whereas, a boundary umpire has a 38% chance of selection and a field umpire 37.5% of being selected. One thing is certain, you have had to be at your best to be selected.
All will be revealed when the AFL release their finals appointments later this week.
Article written by: AFLUA CEO, Peter Howe