Goal umpire, Steve Williams couldn’t have scripted a better finish to his 100th game yesterday in the Essendon v Hawthorn clash at the “G.” In front of just on sixty thousand spectators Essendon staged a remarkable comeback to beat the reigning premiers. “These are the games you umpire for, to be involved in a great finish makes all the sacrifices and hard work worth it,” reflected Steve today.
Steve has a great football pedigree with his grandfather, Geoff playing for Geelong in their 1952 premiership team and winning the first of his two club best and fairest awards. His father played local football as did Steve as a junior before commencing his umpiring with the GFUL when he was thirteen. Steve is the second AFL umpire born of that Geelong era with the late Geoff Morrow umpiring VFL/AFL football. His father, Tom also played in that 1952 premiership.
Steve has a very simple philosophy to umpiring. “I am at my best when I am in a good frame of mind. I try not to take things overly seriously. I enjoy the atmosphere and the camaraderie. I don’t think about scoring points or about others. I focus when I need to and I get the job done. That’s how I get the best out of myself.” Steve believes fitness is the key. “If you are fit in body you are fit in mind. That physical preparation is critical especially when concentration in the last two minutes of a game like Sunday’s is paramount.” Steve spent his first few years on the AFL panel getting to know and understand his surroundings and becoming comfortable with the drills and standards that have to be met at the elite level.
You could be forgiven when watching Steve ply his trade if you think he makes it look easy. He always seems to have time on his side; he gets into position very quickly. “Three hundred games of local footy in Geelong when I was growing up probably taught me enough about the one percenters.” Steve also puts his two years on the VFL panel down to right time right place. I can’t think of any recent examples of anyone who umpired for one year on the development panel, one year on the senior panel and then made his AFL debut in the 3rd year.
Steve becomes the third goal umpire with the surname Williams to notch 100 VFL/AFL games. Reginald Williams umpired between 1925 and 1935 officiating in 148 games including two finals, one of which was a grand final. The second, Graeme Williams who umpired between 1984 and 1995 officiated in 154 games with 7 finals and one grand final. Now we need Steve to add a grand final to his resume to join the best of the Williams’.