Luke’s umpiring experience began in mid 2005 when he decided to jump ship from playing across to umpiring. It happened by chance that the local amateur goal umpires were training at the same ground that he was playing local footy, so it was an easy transition across. He admits he wasn’t a fan of running back then and saw the goal umpires walking laps which was right up Luke’s alley. He started in the WAFL in 2008 umpiring colts and reserves in his first year then cracked a game in league footy in 2010. By the end of 2012, Luke had notched up 50 league games including the 2011 and 2012 WAFL grand finals, earning him a spot of the AFL panel in 2013. Luke also umpired the SA v WA State game in 2012 and was awarded the Merv Carter medal (goal umpire of the year) in the same year.
Luke’s first game was on a Friday night in Round 3 – Fremantle v Essendon, with the Bombers winning a thriller by 4 points. He says umpiring in a two team town for the first seven seasons has been awesome, especially in front of the big crowds at Optus Stadium over the last few years. In 2020, Luke moved across the country to be with his girlfriend in Melbourne and to continue his umpiring career in the home of footy. He managed just 3 games before footy was banished from Melbourne. With so much uncertainty with the season, he was thrilled to umpire his 100th AFL game – West Coast v GWS – in Perth on 23rd August 2020.
Luke has been appointed to the finals panel on 3 occasions but hasn’t quite cracked the top 8 yet. He has also umpired a couple of international rules series games in 2014 and 2017.
Luke’s biggest learning has been to never give up and consistently work hard on ways to improve himself. He has found having a mindset of focusing on the things you can control has brought on improved performances over the last 3 years and that improving his fitness/diet has resulted in him feeling mentally and physically stronger with improved concentration of game day.
Career highlights include umpiring at both the MCG and Adelaide Oval as both grounds hold significant history in Australian sport so to be out on the grounds was pretty amazing.
Being able to umpire his 100th AFL game in front of family and friends in Perth will also hold a special memory for Luke.
Luke’s love of goal umpiring is like many other goal umpires. You get the best seat in the house to watch a game of footy and be part of the action and the roar of the crowd when the ball sails through for a goal can be spine tingling at times. Growing up as a kid Luke’s favourite player was Matthew Pavlich so his most enjoyable game to date was when he played his 300th game against Geelong in 2014. Luke was lucky enough to signal Pavlich’s 600th goal in the first quarter of that game which was a very special moment to be involved with. “The roar when that goal went through was insane and the overall atmosphere for the whole game was electric.”
Luke preparation for each match starts during the week with keeping active and eating healthy so that he feels sharp on match day. He lifts weights 3-4 times a week and throws in a few running sessions. On game day, he relaxes by walking around the ground and watching the players kicking at goals before the game starts.
Like any umpire, the transition to the AFL requires you to adapt to the speed and tempo of the game and at first Luke struggled with this. However, he now feels he has nailed that part of his game during the last three years. He is particularly proud of his decision-making skills when adjudicating tight calls on the scoring line.
2020 has affected our umpiring group in so many ways. For Luke, he was due to move to Melbourne in March, but decided to stay in Perth during the first lockdown. He eventually moved to Melbourne in June in time for the season recommencement. During that time, with not much to do, he trained really hard to avoid the “Iso Bod”. He was lucky that his girlfriend, Narissah, was in Perth with him so that made it easier to deal with the situation too. Then when he arrived in Melbourne, he got to umpire a few games in front of no crowds before jetting off to Perth for his 100th game. Luke feels he has handled the Covid situation well and his umpiring has reflected that. He has also mastered his cooking with his signature dishes including pork bell, beef brisket, lamb roast and chicken carbonara pasta, with invitations for dinner pending post lockdown.
Well done Luke on your fantastic milestone during a difficult year. We look forward to seeing you back out on the ground in 2021.