Round one seems such a long time ago………. With very little to celebrate during these last few weeks, it’s great to be able to applaud Leigh Haussen’s 50th AFL game which he officiated in the Adelaide v Sydney game at Adelaide Oval on Saturday 21 March 2020.
Leigh’s journey to the AFL started back in 2001 in both the Sturt SASFA and the Metro South Junior Football League. He progressed through to the Independent School Sports Association competition before umpiring his first SANFL game (Under 17s) in July 2006. Leigh’s first League game was in round one in 2010 between South Adelaide and Sturt and was made even more memorable because it finished in a draw.
Leigh has umpired 166 SANFL games including 20 finals which includes 6 SANFL grand finals in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. He has been awarded the SANFL Golden Whistle on two occasions in 2012 and 2016 and has umpired two State games between South Australia and Western Australia in 2012 and South Australia and Victoria in 2016. Leigh’s career highlight was to umpire the 2015 SANFL Grand Final with Craig Fleer and Toby Medlin, two great mates who have come through the ranks together.
Leigh became a rookie umpire with the AFL in 2012 and made his AFL debut in April 2017 in the Western Bulldogs v Brisbane game at Etihad Stadium. His career highlight so far was to officiate alongside ‘Donners’ (Chris Donlon) for 10 games in a row to start the 2018 season. Leigh’s favourite venue is Adelaide Oval, and his most enjoyable game to date was Showdown #44 when Port Adelaide won a thriller by kicking a goal with less than 30 seconds to go.
Leigh enjoys the challenge of doing a difficult job under pressure and loves the feeling of umpiring well during a challenging game. In his 50 games to date, Leigh has learnt to believe in himself and to back his instincts. One part of his game he’s proud of is that he is a team player. He has no pre-game superstitions and never does the karaoke / grapevine warm-up exercise as he says it’s not for him.
Leigh’s advice to umpires in state leagues wanting to break into the big league, “Always be fit and ready to go as you never know when an opportunity might come up.” And Leigh is living proof of that. Having been delisted as a Rookie Umpire at the end of season 2016, Leigh found himself, following Jordan Bannister’s retirement, promoted to the AFL Field Umpires’ list in 2017.
Leigh umpired alongside Craig Fleer and David Harris and enjoyed the day and the bottle of red they shared to celebrate post-game. Congratulations Leigh on your 50th game and we wish you continued success when football resumes later in the year.