Well known to the airline industry Dean Margetts recently notched up his 350th AFL game when he umpired the Gold Coast v Fremantle game at Carrara on Saturday 27th June 2020.

Dean commenced his career like many of his WA colleagues in the Demons Junior Umpire association (same as Brett Rosebury) in 1996.  Dean umpired the WAFL grand final in 2000.  One of his career highlights was his first game in round 5, 2002 between West Coast and Brisbane.  Dean recalls congregating around his first bounce in AFL football were the likes of Judd, Cousins, Kerr, Voss, Black and Akermanis to name a few. All of those players have won a Brownlow and one was a runner-up twice. Fair to say Dean was presented with the cream of the crop for his debut.  His first bounce, was as good a bounce he has ever done, never doing one that good again!

During a career spanning 19 seasons, Dean has umpired 12 finals including two preliminary finals and in 2012 he was awarded the Bishop Shield, the AFLUA’s most prestigious award which recognizes both on-field performance and off-field commitment to the AFLUA.

According to Dean the game has certainly changed during this time especially training methods, the staffing structure around the umpiring team and of course the way the game is played. But at the end of the day, 18 players go to war each week and try to have more points than the other at the final siren and that hasn’t changed which is a good thing.

Having started his involvement with football at 7 years of age, Dean has played and coached before taking up umpiring. He loves the competitive nature of umpiring, preparing from pre-season right through to the end of the season.

Being one of three field umpires in Western Australia, Dean is part of a great group of like-minded people who along with the boundary and goal umpires are focused on supporting and improving each other.  Whilst he does miss face to face contact with his coaches and most of his fellow umpires, he believes the setup in Perth has a unique culture and standards which are supported and owned by management, coaches, support staff and umpires.

Dean reckons that one of the toughest calls he’s had to make during his career is to call his coach and say, “I’m injured and can’t umpire!”  However, he believes every umpire makes tough decisions every week because AFL football is a tough caper.  To the people who send him social media messages each week, he is happy to take them on a tour of 5 minutes in the first quarter of an AFL match to see what their view of the game is like is afterwards, he is pretty sure a whole new appreciation will be seen.

In trying to put Dean’s achievement into perspective, one needs to have a look at what he has done travel wise to get to his 350-game milestone.  Dean has umpired in Brisbane x 3, Adelaide x 38, Sydney x 23, Melbourne x 147 and Geelong 7.  Some of these numbers are a bit fuzzy because l didn’t acknowledge games in Tasmania or Ballarat or other venues because the destinations above make the point.  He has travelled in excess of 728,000 kilometres to follow his passion of umpiring AFL football.  38% of his games have been in Perth, 62% interstate so you get a fairly good idea of the extra commitment to umpire so many games.  And there are more stats to follow!

To maintain a high level of professionalism each week during a long season is different for Dean.  He has to combat travel for the majority of his appointments in addition to different time zones, which can be a major factor when you talk about post-match recovery.  Dean acknowledges that his weight normally remains around 75kg all year and has learned since Rob Jackson’s appointment that, whilst they have clashed at times in particular in the early days, he has now learnt a new approach to training which he hopes will lengthen his career and takes into his account his youthful age of 46.

Dean loves umpiring and says that players and coaches are really good to the umpires as they respect our roles and understand the challenges, we face each week.  He believes the relationship with all players and coaches is as good as it has ever been.

Dean has many people he would like to thank.  In Perth, he acknowledges it’s not easy for parents to have a son who is an AFL umpire when there are only 3 of them and being the more senior, Dean tends to cop it more, so people close to him cop it more.  His partner of nearly 5 years Catrina and her children have been really supportive of Dean and the choices he has to make to do what he does, all AFL umpires need to be a little selfish at times.  They are a footy family with an umpire, 4 players and a Junior Footy Club Registrar all living under the same roof.

His 2020 season has been mixed.  He had a 10-week hamstring tendon injury and only missed one game due to the shutdown.  He did his 350th game on the Gold Coast after never doing a game in Brisbane before.

Dean has been on the Gold Coast and returned to Perth in time for the Derby game at Optus in front of the biggest crowd this season.  He admits he’s nearly forgotten what it’s likes to umpire in front of supporters again.

Some more statistics on Dean’s fantastic milestone:

  • He has umpired Fremantle at home on 70 occasions vs West Coast 62.  His biggest tally interstate is Richmond at home on 26 occasions. Outside of Perth, he has umpired Essendon on 46 occasions, Hawthorn (44), Richmond (43) and Adelaide, Collingwood, Port Adelaide and Sydney (42).
  • Wednesday is the only day he hasn’t umpired an AFL game – Monday (5), Tuesday (1), Thursday (9), Friday (51), Saturday (160) and Sunday (124).
  • He has umpired with Steve McInerney on 37 occasions; Jeff Dalgleish (35), Brett Rosebury and Simon Meredith (27), and Matt Stevic and Rob Findlay (26).
  • On the boundary, Nathan Doig has umpired alongside Dean on 87 occasions, followed by Brett Dalgleish (77), Alan Zanich (52) and Adam Bastick (43) whilst in the goals Brett Rogers has waved the flags in 54 games, with Dale Edwick (40) and Luke Edwards (28).

Well done Dean on a fantastic milestone!!!

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