You are immediately captured by his unbridled enthusiasm, his contagious smile and passion for the game. Field umpire, Simon Meredith may have just umpired his 250th AFL game but he could well be that same youthful rookie who first stepped onto an AFL ground in 2004.
“I hope I never change, I just love the game and I love being part of it every week,” said Simon as he reflected on his milestone. “I never thought about doing 250 games, I wanted one then 50 next was 100 and they just roll on.”
From the moment “Medda” started umpiring in the Moorabbin Saints Junior Football League he had a desire to umpire AFL footy. “I gave it everything to get here. Everything I did as a young person was designed to make the AFL. I don’t want to waste the opportunity now that I’m here.”
Medda’s career statistics puts him in the top 25 umpires of all time in terms of games, 18 finals and 3 grand finals and what’s more important is that, “I’m not finished yet. I have many more things I’d love to tick off before I’m ready to retire. I respect my team mates and their support and feedback. I’m certainly not hunted on the track, the boys get around me and show me tremendous support,” laughed Medda. “I do the best I can, to be the best I can be”.
One thing has changed. “When I was lying in the hospital bed last year after my brain haemorrhage I was extremely disappointed having to come off the ground, more disappointed having to pull out the next week. It was the first time in my career I’d been unavailable to be selected, but when the doctors told me I might not go home, it put a few things into perspective. I appreciate the game more and my place in it.”
“Ireland and China were two great trips with great people and I have some great memories of those trips. To be able to take Leiza with me to Ireland made it even more special.” Simon jealously guards his family time from football. “My family make a lot of sacrifices during the footy season so I will always do what’s right for them in the off season.”
Simon is one man who will always stand up for what he believes in. “I will umpire again next year for all the right reasons. You are a long time retired. Although I am closer to the end than the start, I still love every minute of it.”