The AFL announced that former boundary umpire Darren Wilson would be one of 12 new Life Members to be inducted at the 2021 Annual General Meeting in March for their services to Australian Football.
Darren is the first VFL/AFL boundary umpire to be recognised for his outstanding services to the AFL on and off the field. The following summary of his most significant achievements are as follows:
Demonstrated significant, sustained and high-quality achievement and service
- Mr Wilsons record of 12 consecutive AFL Grand Finals between 1998 and 2009 speaks for itself. His record speaks for elite performance.
- As the AFL games record holder for a boundary umpire Round 20 2012 to Round 4 2020, Mr Wilson has clearly provided lengthy service to the game; service that still continues.
- He has officiated in 48 AFL finals, which is 14 more than his closest rival in VFL/AFL history.
- Mr Wilson also umpired in four pre-season competition grand finals and two ANZAC Day matches.
- Named the All-Australian Boundary Umpire in 2007. (Note: The All-Australian award was introduced for boundary umpires in 2005).
- Mr Wilson has no peer on the track as an elite athlete. Even as his boundary umpiring career finished in 2016, he was still in the top 5 umpires in athletic benchmark testing. Similarly, he had no peer in executing his skills as a boundary umpire either.
Demonstrated commitment to fair play, leadership and being an outstanding role model
Mr Wilson has clearly demonstrated outstanding leadership in boundary umpiring over a significant period of time both on the field and in a variety of coaching positions culminating in him being appointed as the AFL National Boundary Umpires’ Coach responsible for the 43 boundary umpires on the AFL list across Australia.
The AFL appoints Umpiring coaches and requires coaches who are committed, display leadership and present as role models. Examples of Darren displaying these qualities as an AFL coach include.
- In the latter part of his career Mr Wilson was also appointed by the AFL Umpiring Department to coach and mentor young AFL boundary umpires.
- As an AFL coach and mentor, Darren flew from Adelaide to Brisbane every second week. He umpired a match with young inexperienced umpires and then stayed on for training on a Tuesday night to coach and provide feedback.
- Mr Wilson also coached in the National Under 18 and Under 16 championships where he worked with up and coming umpires from across Australia in developing their on-field skills and techniques. This involvement has contributed to 4 new AFL listed boundary umpires and with further development, more will follow. His ability to develop better young umpires is matched by his approach to develop them into better people.
Service to the game
- It is only possible to be a games record holder by displaying an outstanding commitment to serving the game and presenting in a manner that satisfies the performance standards demanded of the sport at the elite level.
- Boundary umpires require outstanding fitness, running on average 15-19 kilometres per game. This requires elite endurance. Mr Wilsons’ commitment to a year-round training routine for 21 years required amazing perseverance, commitment and a clear passion to serve the game of Australian Rules Football.
- Mr Wilson spent five years working for the SANFL (1998-2003) as an Umpiring Development Officer. He introduced many beginners to the world of umpiring. This commitment to working with grass roots football gave him the opportunity to influence many young careers.
- After Mr Wilson’s retirement in 2016, he was appointed as the AFLW boundary umpires’ coach, a position he held from 2017 until the end of the 2019 AFLW season.
- In 2019 Mr Wilson became the AFL Boundary Umpires Coach
In all, Mr Wilson has spent 28 years as a running umpire and now as an elite coach of umpires. Mr Wilson is an outstanding role model in his field and has provided outstanding leadership in his field of expertise in AFL football.
Mr Wilson is a Life Member of the AFLUA (2006).
Mr Wilson’s nomination for AFL Life Membership was proposed by the AFLUA in recognition of his outstanding service to AFL Football, both on and off the field.