Chris Esler is a man on a mission. He comes across as an affable relaxed guy who just wants to knock about with his mates. Under that calm composed exterior is a man with a passion for performance. Coming off his role as co-ordinator for the Wings for Life World Run where he managed the Australian leg of the run, nobody should doubt his commitment to any cause he puts his mind to. He likes to break records.
Chris believes the 100 game marker means he has some credibility within the ranks. “I see myself now as an accomplished boundary umpire. One hundred games I think gives you that. They can trust me now to impart my knowledge onto younger umpires.”
Not that his mate, Matt Tomkins thought that at 3/4 time on Friday, night when he casually strolled up to Chris and said, “Whippa Wilson has umpired more games that you have quarters.” Left flat by the comment, Chris does think there is time in football for the larrikin. “We have run in each other’s milestone games, we get along really well. I’ll get him back!”
Chris believes one of the advantages of experience is smarter match day running. “As a young umpire coming into the ranks you play, “see ball-chase ball” and you don’t think about executing your skills smartly. Now I’m running around 3km less in a game compared to when l was a less experienced umpire, but I run harder when I need too.”
Chris believes the rule changes that have come into force this season has meant that play is more continuous with less stoppages. “Players are also doing everything they can to keep the ball in play, which has made it tougher for us because we are forced to make more line ball decisions. They don’t want to give away a DOOB free and so we have to be alert and ready at all times.”
“Players have got fitter and quicker which means no rest for us.” When I spoke with Chris on Monday afternoon he was still feeling a little sore from the game. When asked about finals this year, following his break out year in 2015 Chris was not so sure. “Forty-two into twelve doesn’t go and when you have guns like, Burrows, Haala, Gordon and Tomkins running around it makes it tougher. However, I will still give it my best shot.”
That is what Chris is renowned for, always giving it his best shot.
Article written by: AFLUA CEO, Peter Howe