AFL goal umpire, David (Dicko) Dixon broke the games record for VFL/AFL goal umpires when he officiated in Saturday’s St. Kilda v Collingwood Game at the MCG. It was Dicko’s 338th game which includes 32 finals and 6 grand finals. It has taken him into his 18th season (1998 – 2016) to accumulate the tally of games. He breaks the record of David Flegg who umpired for 21 years (1990-2011) 337 games including 19 finals and 3 grand finals. (See the interview with David later in the week)
Another goal umpire was breaking a record of sorts in this round as well. SA based goalie, Peter Challen umpired his first AFL game since 2010. In his 6 year absence nothing has changed except for his persistence and willingness to have a crack and stay at the top of his game. Peter umpired his 32nd AFL game in the Pt. Adelaide v Essendon game on Friday night.
Boundary umpire, Michael Saunders was another to achieve a fantastic milestone in umpiring the Sydney v Greater Western Sydney game at the weekend. Michael, the ‘go to’ person in NSW for many years officiated his 150th AFL game which include 13 finals and one grand final.
Great to see veteran goal umpire, Dan Wilson back on an AFL ground this weekend. Dan had an accumulation of injuries over the pre-season and it is great credit to him that he fought back so quickly.
The early rounds in any year are great. The debutants just keep coming. Gareth Hughes in Qld becomes the 566th boundary umpire to debut in the AFL. He made his first match at Metricon stadium one to remember. “When you are in the moment you are just in another game of footy. When you stop and reflect you realise it’s more than just another game.”
Spare a thought for Gareth. His pre-match on Saturday morning was to sit an exam. He is studying medicine and has to sit the exams when they are set. “At least I never had any of the Friday night and Saturday pre-match nerves, I was focussing on something much bigger than even footy,” laughed Gareth.
Our second debutant is NSW goal umpire Angus McKenzie-Wills. He became the 342nd goal umpire to debut. “The well wishers in the lead up to the game was overwhelming,” said a relieved Angus, when we spoke with him today. “The moment wasn’t lost on me either. Umpiring my first game in an all Sydney clash where I had umpired all of my football growing up was very special.”
Angus, said the game itself was a bit of a blur because of the level of focus and concentration you have to take into it. “I’m sure as I reflect on it, I will take more from it. I am grateful for the experience.”