AFL rookie field umpire, Matt Clarke was named in the Tasmanian State League 2015 team of the year when it was announced earlier this month . He followed up that accolade with his appointment in the TSL grand final last weekend. TSL football manager, Shaun Young said, “it is a huge honour to be named in this team whether you are a player, a member of the coaching staff or an umpire. Each position in the team is debated and determined on what you have done over the entire home and away season.”
Matt does it the hard way. He is a member of the North West Umpires Panel based in Ulverstone and lives in a little town called Moriarty. His travel commitments are significant when it comes to training and umpiring. He trains on Tuesday nights with a group of professional runners in Devonport and makes the pilgrimage to Ulverstone on Thursdays. As a state league umpire he does his coaching via telephone and web vision sent to him by TSL State Umpiring Manager/Coach, Mike Brown.
Matt, while young in experience terms has umpired the last three state league grand finals and trialled for a place on the AFL list two years ago. As an AFL rookie he must meet all of the AFL fitness requirements, sit on weekly coaching teleconferences and act as the emergency field umpire in AFL games played in Tasmania.
Matt has been identified as a young man with talent. He now has the daunting task of deciding whether he will move to Melbourne, seeking a place on the VFL panel to improve his umpiring and have a realistic crack at becoming a listed AFL umpire.