Ian ‘Buzzer’ Burrows joined an illustrious group becoming only the 14th boundary umpire to achieve 300 games in the history of the VFL/AFL when he took to the field for the Collingwood v St Kilda game at the MCG on Saturday 20 June 2020.
Ian started his boundary umpiring journey with the Yarra Valley Mountain District Football League back in 2001. His first AFL match was between Collingwood and Adelaide in 2006 and since then he has become one of the most consistent and best boundary umpires in VFL/AFL history.
His record speaks for itself – 8 AFL grand finals in 2008, 2010 plus replay, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2019. All Australian in 2010, 2012 and 2015 and the recipient of the Bill Sutton Medallion in 2007 and the Murray Williams Shield in 2014 and 2016.
When asked how he feels about umpiring his 300th game, Ian acknowledged it was a real honour to have been involved in footy at the highest level for so long. “Like everyone, when l walked out for my first game, l never imagined still being there 300 games later, let alone enjoying so many highlights and making so many mates along the way.”
Buzzer loves performing well in big matches and hearing the roar of the crowd at the start of a match or during a tense moment. He also loves the feeling of coming off the ground when you’ve done well. But best of all, he loves sharing these experiences with his mates.
Whilst each grand final is memorable in its own right, he believes the 2010 drawn grand final between Collingwood and St Kilda was his favourite. “It’s hard to describe that feeling when the final siren sounded, and the scores were locked at 68 apiece.”
The game has certainly changed since Buzzer started running the white line. Boundary umpiring has also changed. When Ian started boundary umpires used to do one side by themselves before swapping with the umpire on the bench. It’s clearly a lot different now with two on each side.
Buzzer has many people to thank. His dad first got him into umpiring and he still remembers those early days. He still messages him before every match. His mum, sister and brother are his biggest fans and they’ve been with him every step of the way. Ian’s partner Sofie is his biggest supporter and takes a real active interest in his career and her advice is always spot on. He has also converted her family to AFL, and they are now huge supporters as well.
There are also many coaches and trainers who have given him so many opportunities and guidance during his career. And of course, he is always learning from his colleagues and looking at areas for improvement.
As the third-most experienced umpire on the AFL list, Buzzer does not think too much about the numbers. Number two is Adam Coote and of course, number one is Mark Thomson who only last week broke the record for the most games as a VFL/AFL boundary umpire. He describes Adam as ‘phenomenal’ and Mark as a ‘freak’.
2020 has not been without its challenges. For Ian it’s been a completely bizarre year so far. It started with no crowds in round one before the long break and trying to work out whether you should proceed as normal with training, or treat it a bit more like a pre-season or off-season given there was no guarantee football would return.
He describes it as surreal being in these huge stadiums with no fans. But he admits there are some small positives and one of them is being able to communicate with his teammates easier. Ian particularly enjoys a good “chat” on the run back up the centre.
Ian served on the AFLUA Executive Committee for 2 years in 2013 and 2014 and became an AFLUA Life Member in 2015.
Congratulations Buzzer and we wish you continued success for the rest of the year!