Justin Schmitt becomes the 13th umpire in the history of the game to umpire 350 games this weekend when he takes the field in the Adelaide v Geelong Preliminary Final. Justin just keeps getting better with age. During the middle phase of his career that commenced in 1997 Justin was beset with back, hamstring and shoulder injuries that would have sounded the death knell to any other person. His single minded focus and resilience is unshakable. He probably missed the better part of 50 games over those three seasons.
Interestingly, there are two others in that list who are also umpiring on this weekend in the same game. Brett Rosebury (370 games) breaks the all time record for the field umpire with the most finals moving into outright first place with 40 finals. Mark Thomson (357 games) moves into outright second on the list of boundary umpires with 31 finals.
When experience counts the most experienced shine. Five of the six field umpires on the weekend have multiple grand finals next to their names. Only Justin Schmitt is yet to get a gong. However, this is his third preliminary final in the past 5 years.
Four of the eight boundary umpires also have multiple grand finals next to their names. Brett Dalgleish, Mitch LeFevre, Damien Cusack and Matthew Konetschka will be doing everything within their power to knock off their elder statesmen in the race to the grand final.
Only two of the four goal umpires have umpired grand finals before. Stephen Williams was been knocking on the door for a few years now and Matthew Dervan has come from the stars in only his second season on the AFL list.
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