When one achieves a significant milestone, one can not help ponder how an opportunity which presented itself to David Dixon as he finished playing junior football. David was invited by the Footscray District League to take up umpiring and now 30 years later, David has become the record holder for the most VFL / AFL games as a goal umpire with 338 games.
In 1987, David went down to training and umpired for 7 years as a boundary umpire. With his sights set on the AFL, David changed to goal umpiring in 1994 and his career took off from there.
Current Assistant AFL Goal Umpires’ Coach Rod Davies was the Footscray District League Coach at the time when David started his goal umpiring career. “David has just come off an A grade grand final on the boundary the year before but decided he wanted to be a goal umpire. He sat in the middle of the front row and never once did he take his eyes off me. It was quite unnerving, l walked out of the room knowing he had a real thirst for knowledge and that if he could put that into action on the ground, he would be successful.” Rod acknowledged, “I never imagined it would be this successful.”
David is described as an ideas man. David Flegg, whose record David surpassed, spoke of the many hours that they spent together watching cricket, driving to and from training talking about how umpiring both on and off the field could be improved. To David’s credit, many of his ideas were put into action.
David has many fond memories from his career to date. He enjoyed umpiring with Anthony Black because he always bought the best out of you and made you laugh.
As a goal umpire, David believes Dustin Fletcher was one of the more difficult players to goal umpire around. “You always had to maintain a high level of awareness of Darren’s presence, given he would appear from nowhere, long arms and legs going in all directions,” said David. “Also, there are many small forwards who are so quick, always thinking ahead, which means you can’t mentally relax at all.”
His advice for up and coming umpires is to work hard and you will reap the awards. “You can’t just maintain your level, you have to continuously improve and reinvent yourself, just as players and coaches do, to ensure that you at your best once you walk onto the field.”
David acknowledged he hadn’t thought much about becoming the record holder. “I never thought much about it until 12 months ago when current AFL Goal Umpires’ Coach Steven Stirling and l sat down and he told me the record could be mine. Steve, like many of my earlier coaches, had more confidence in my ability than l did. I am glad that l can now acknowledge and reward their faith in me with this record.”
David has many people to thank including his AFL goal umpiring colleagues, his coaches over the years and the many umpires he has teamed up with on match day. He said, “The last two weeks have been the best two weeks of my career. I have been overwhelmed by the messages and calls of support from people who l hadn’t been in contact with for years”.