Field umpire Andrew Mitchell (Mitch) walked onto Blundstone Arena on Saturday quietly confident that he could handle whatever the game threw at him. “I had an eight year apprenticeship in the VFL with almost 150 senior games of experience. Five years ago it wasn’t kick, mark, play on as much as it is today. You had to learn how to manage players too.” reflected Andrew on the eve of his 50th AFL game.
His quiet demeanour around the group may often be confused with a lack of passion for the game and his involvement in it. That couldn’t be further from the truth. “I love footy. Like everything, it has its ups and downs, but I am passionate about the game. I couldn’t think of a better sport to be involved in.”
Mitch puts his recent run of good form down to a successful change in his bouncing style, “I got rid of the triple-jump hop, skip and jump approach, and moved to a one step delivery in the mould of Harris and Findlay. It has given me a lot of confidence and instead of thinking about my next bounce I can focus on moving and adjusting with a clear mind towards the next contest.”
Mitch has had a very consistent start to his AFL career. He debuted in Round 1 2012 and umpired the first 10 matches, unheard of for a debutant who is normally in for two or three games and then out for a few. Andrew umpired 18 games in his first season and backed that up with 14 last year. To date he has added another 18 games this year. So how did he enjoy working in teams in the first half of the season? “I quite enjoyed the experience because you become familiar with the umpiring styles of your teammates and can be more predictable to each other.”
A confirmed family man and accountant, Mitch commenced working a four day week earlier in the year. “It has definitely helped my umpiring from a recovery point of view. But more importantly, it has given me some quality time to spend with my wife and daughter, which can be quite difficult when managing work and footy across most weekends.”
Always well planned and forward thinking, Mitch is looking forward to a short break at the end of the season before hitting the pavement so that he is ready to go when pre-season commences in mid-November.