Justin’s last words to me yesterday afternoon as he reflected on his retirement presentation were, “I don’t know how they did it Pete. The conditions were oppressive.”
Justin was talking about the conditions that greeted the Geelong and Gold Coast Suns football teams and the umpires in Townsville on Sunday. “It was 38 degrees at half time and I had to take my kids home. They were hot.” Justin went along to the game to catch up with his former colleagues and to be presented with his retirement caricature. It’s not often that someone retires from umpiring and moves 2,600 kilometres away, the next day, like Justin did!
Justin loves life in Townsville,where he moved to work, so much he has purchased a house. “I miss my hit of AFL footy but the pluses are too many to mention.” Our only way of recognising Justin’s 205 AFL game career was to bring him out and make the presentation prior to the game. So with all of the umpires in the room Chris Gordon reflected on his relationship with Justin and made the presentation. Justin umpired with the AFL between 2004 and 2013. His 50th AFL game was the Geelong v Pt Adelaide, 2007 grand final. He umpired in 9 finals. Justin was certainly the quiet achiever and just got his job done each and every weekend. He was extremely resilient and one of the best team players on the list.
Justin enjoyed mingling among the umpires who each took the time out of their pre-match routine to share a story with him. A belated congratulations Justin on behalf of everyone associated with the AFLUA.
Pictured: Former AFL Boundary, Justin Bennison presented with his retirement caricature