Fifty game milestones are not recognised by the AFL. They consider multiple of 100 games deserve real celebration and recognition.
However, on this occasion Leigh Fisher’s 50th game as an umpire just coincides with his 105th game of AFL. Fifty-five as a player. So how does “Fish” rate his first 50 games? “In my first season out there I grabbed onto the coat-tails of the other umpires to get through. Last year I started to feel more comfortable, but this year I feel as though I belong and I feel like the players are acknowledging that,” reflected Leigh.
So, how did you fit into the “umpires way of life? “I actually really enjoy it! To be honest, at this stage of my life I don’t know what I’d be doing on weekends if I wasn’t umpiring. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be playing.” What an admission from a man who is obsessed with fitness, loves his footy and has many friendships throughout the industry.
Fish has become a leader within the umpiring ranks. He was elected to represent the field umpires on the AFLUA executive and has a very clear view of where things are and of the way forward.
“The toughest initiation was in community and VFL footy trying to learn positioning. It is a tough mindset to get. I must say that it is easier at AFL level because the game is more predictable.”
“Decision making is probably my greatest strength,” said Fish. “My footy background and understanding the mindset of players helps significantly. I know where players are going to run and I know their tricks,” he laughed. “I still need to continue work with my bouncing, it’s straight but I could do with a bit more height.”
He has taken to the craft of umpiring like a “Fish to water.” He brings a real sense of calm and understanding to the group. Only 95 more games before we celebrate his 200th.