Two of the AFL’s most veteran umpires are set to join the 400-games club, as field umpire Chris Donlon and boundary umpire Adam Coote complete their respective 400th AFL matches this weekend.
The decorated duo made their AFL debuts during the 2005 season and will scale yet another significant height on their umpiring journeys in Round 22 this year.
Chris will take charge of the Collingwood v. Geelong game at MCG on Friday (11 August 2023) for his landmark match, while Adam will mark his double ton at the North Melbourne v. Essendon game on Saturday (12 August 2023) at Docklands Stadium.
Having commenced his umpiring career with the MSJFL in 1992 and the VAFA in 1994, Chris made his AFL introduction in 2005 (Hawthorn v. Brisbane) and was awarded as the most promising first- or second-year umpire (Ian Coates Medallion) in 2006.
Diligently building on his umpiring craft, Chris went on to preside over the 2011 AFL Grand Final and claimed the Umpire of the Year (Bishop Shield) honour six years after. As one of the most experienced field umpires of the group, he has 19 AFL Finals to his name. He was awarded AFL Life Membership in 2018.
A Life Member of the AFL Umpires Association since 2014, Chris was elected as the AFLUA President at the 2022 Annual General Meeting and has continued to work off the field with CEO Rob Kerr and the Executive Committee. He has also been a strong supporter of the Fiona McBurney Match Day Experience program down the years. The program was reinstated ahead of the 2023 AFL season after a COVID-enforced hiatus and has once again been a fantastic experience for participants from Down Syndrome Victoria to enjoy a matchday guest umpire trainer’s role.
Chris will become only the 8th VFL/AFL field umpire to reach the 400-game milestone.
Boundary umpire Adam Coote, who debuted in AFL Season 2005 Round 1 (Richmond v. Geelong), has been another key cog of the umpires’ leadership group and an inspiration to many, thanks to his powerful running ability, athleticism and willingness to support.
When he takes to the field on Saturday, he will become only the 3rd boundary umpire to officiate in 400 VFL/AFL games.
Adam took up the whistle with the Colac and District Umpires Association in 1997, and has garnered a formidable top-flight honours record. These include 31 AFL Finals, five AFL Grand Finals (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2010 replay), two All-Australian blazers (2008 and 2009), and Murray Williams Shield (2012) and Bill Sutton Medallion (2006) recognition.
Adam has further shared his vast experience with the AFLW umpiring contingent, officiating in three games during the Season 7 (2022) competition.
Adam has been involved with the AFLUA in the past as a notable boundary umpire representative, working on the Executive Committee in 2010, 2011 and 2012. He was bestowed with AFLUA Life Membership in 2014.
Well done, Chris and Adam, on reaching another momentous occasion of your umpiring careers. We wish you all the best this weekend.
# Headshot images above courtesy of AFL Media – Chris Donlon (first image); Adam Coote (second image)