Queensland boundary umpire, Nick Wade achieves his 50 game milestone this weekend when Brisbane plays North Melbourne at the Gabba.
Nick is a realist when it comes to understanding his strengths and weaknesses in footy. “I was never a gifted athlete nor did I have a lot of self belief but when you get into umpiring at this level you just have to believe and take the opportunity when it arises,” reflected Nick today.
Folklore has it that Nick and his partner, Carmel were travelling down to Melbourne for Christmas in Nick’s Kombi van when he received a call from his coach that he had a chance to trial for a place on the AFL list. Luckily, he had taken his runners with him, and trained for the remainder of their trip in some amazing locations.
“In reality I turned up to the camp at Creswick and had to run 30 seconds faster than I had ever run before to meet the benchmark of 18.15 for 5km to make the list. I was a little nervous and got more-so when ambulances had to be called when two field umpires collapsed during their run. My parents live in Bacchus Marsh and my Dad drove out to see me, the pressure was on.”
Nick wonders whether he is fighting internal or external perceptions about his age and ability, but either way it drives him to work harder every step of the way. He met that benchmark in Creswick that morning and in each subsequent year (this is his third) he has run another PB.
“In my first AFL game I have never run harder or faster and at times I didn’t know whether I was going to make it.” What Nick has in spades however is resilience and persistence. He is in disbelief that he has made it this far but he is, and rightly should be, very proud that he has achieved a very small milestone in the grand picture but a very important one personally.
“Without doubt the best game I have been involved in was the 52 point turnaround in the Brisbane v Geelong match in 2013. McGrath kicked the winning goal after the siren in his 200th game to give Brisbane an unbelievable win, the eighth biggest comeback in history.”
Nick cares deeply about his local umpires association and has been the secretary there for a few years now. “We are a small team in Queensland we work hard to support each other, we look out for each other. If one gets criticised we get around him and get on with the game.”