Never far from the AFL spotlight, many would be asking what has happened to ‘Razor’ Ray, one of Australia’s longest serving field umpires.
A torn glute tendon unfortunately derailed Ray’s umpiring campaign this year, after he had officiated in one pre-season match during the AAMI Community Series, and six matches of the 2022 AFL home-and-away season. He last umpired in Round 9 (Hawthorn v Richmond at the MCG), back in May 2022.
We recently caught up with Ray, who shared his insights on how he has managed his injury and how his recovery is gradually building momentum.
Having overcome the initial frustration after the diagnosis, Ray has been progressing steadily with the recovery process.
He said, “It was one of those ones where I had to make a call. We made a conservative decision to let it heal properly and then get into my rehabilitation and physio and rebuild.
“It’s been responding the way it’s meant to. It’s been getting better and we haven’t had any real setbacks. Overall, the hip is on the mend.”
Ray noted that taking the right steps consistently has benefitted him, including the required rest period, followed by gradual strength work and return to slow running.
Staying positive has been another mantra for him. “There’s not a lot of benefit in lamenting what you cannot do or what might have been or what’s gone. So, I am focused on the things that I can do and keep working at that, knowing that it’s more likely to lead to success quicker,” he added.
The 360-game veteran has shaken off the injury frost multiple times in his umpiring career so far, most notably making a comeback after a broken knee-cap and surgery that had sidelined him in 2012-2013. His trademark and undeniable resilience has set him apart in this regard.
Ray reflected, “Having lived through those, I have built up my understanding in being able to work through those issues. I know what works for me in terms of staying positive and having perspective as well.”
For him, the message to up-and-coming umpires is simple, if they are forced to go through a lengthy injury rehab. Ray said, “You need to seek out professionals, have faith in the [process], and then conduct yourself accordingly. Do you want to spend [the time] lamenting, wishing? Or do you want to throw yourself into the things you can do, the best you can do them?
“Each day, you’ve got another opportunity to get to work on whatever that might be. So, bring the best version of yourself.”
Although Ray’s attention has been on building his way back to fitness, time away from the field has seen him stay busy.
He has enjoyed spending more time with his family, and has continued to focus on his business and his work with the Chamberlain Foundation, which supports organisations providing valuable mental health services to the wider community.
The Foundation’s Melbourne-based lunch is slated for March next, as well as their annual Razor Ride fundraising cycling tour towards the end of 2023. Work is also underway to expand the digital offerings and content across the Foundation’s online platforms, “so that we are able to engage with our people on a more ongoing level,” Ray said. Several new partners have joined the bandwagon to strengthen the Foundation’s work.
If you wish to know more about the Chamberlain Foundation’s work, please visit https://chamberlainfoundation.org/.
Ray has also been involved in mentoring other umpires. After a trip to the Ballarat Umpires, he is scheduled to jet out to Tasmania, and then to the USA in October to work with the USAFL umpires’ group.
Thank you, Ray, for sharing your story with us. We wish you all the very best going ahead, and hope to see you back in action in 2023.
Featured image – Ray Chamberlain, officiating in his 350th AFL game, poses for a photograph before the 2021 AFL Round 21 match (St Kilda Saints v Sydney Swans at Marvel Stadium). (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)