Boundary umpire, Matthew Tomkins has taken two seasons and four games to notch up his first 50 AFL games. Not since Chris Gordon a couple of years ago has someone reached a milestone in such a quick time. Matt umpired 21 games in his first year, 25 last season, including 3 finals and then 4 this year. When we asked Matt today what it is like being one of the older guys now, he laughed and said, “Yeah I feel like a veteran.”
The preliminary final in Perth last year between Fremantle and Sydney stands out as one of his two fondest memories. “The atmosphere and intensity was just amazing and the Fremantle crowd was going crazy.” While his first game, Essendon v Geelong under a closed roof at Etihad, “with 45,000 screaming fans and a kick after the siren to determine the winner was just something else.”
Off the field Matt was glowing in his praise of the welfare and mentoring program conducted by Stefan Grun last year. “The opportunity to chat with other umpires and to work with the homeless as part of the Salvation Army program was priceless.
So what of 2014 now Matt? I needed a change of mindset this season. I spent the first two seasons learning and honing my craft. I now know what is needed, I keep it pretty simple. I have to chase the footy and get my decisions right.”
Matt started umpiring after a mate who ran athletics with him got him down to the Essendon Football League. He fell in love with it then and there. Essendon, 2005 and 2006, the VFL for five years and the 2011 VFL Grand Final. The rest, as they say, is history.
So where was Matt spending his lunch time today when we caught up with him? As teachers on holidays do, having lunch with his mentor Mark Foster.
Well done Matthew.