Evergreen boundary umpire, Luke Roberts breaks the all time number of games record by a Sydney/ACT based umpire in this weekends, GWS v Carlton game at Giants Stadium.
The previous record of 131 games was held by goal umpire Sergio Villagra who retired at the end of the 2013 season. It has taken Luke, 26 years since his first game in 1988 to break the record. In fairness, Luke gave umpiring away after his debut season to concentrate on his career as a nurse and to travel overseas. He rejoined the AFL panel in 2007 and along with Michael Saunders has been the backbone of the boundary umpiring panel in that state since then.
Luke’s record of 132 games including 3 finals is testimony to the preparation and professionalism of the 43 year old. “The pathway system was not as refined as it is now. I wrote to Jeff Gieschen (AFL Umpires Manager) seeking a trial. I had umpired the three previous ACTAFL grand finals and wanted to get back to the AFL,” explained Luke. “I ran the 10km time trial within the benchmark time and umpired a Sydney v Collingwood practice match a few weeks later and found myself back on the list.”
Serge said today, “I contacted Luke yesterday to congratulate him on breaking my record and he didn’t realise it was this weekend. Luke is a great umpire and deserves all of the accolades he receives.”
Only one game further behind is goal umpire, James Savage who equals Sergio’s record of 131 games this weekend also. “As an interstate umpire who in the early days only had a game or two every few weeks you take quite some time to build your experience and so records are hard to come by,” explained James.
Congratulations Luke on breaking the existing record and to James on moving into equal second position.