Rob Findlay returned to the ground where his career started this weekend, when he officiated in his 200thAFL match between Melbourne and Collingwood in the Queen’s Birthday classic at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of a huge crowd.  Sitting in the crowd were his proud parents, wife and three children, all cheering for #23!

Rob commenced his career at AFL level in 2009 at the MCG when Richmond played Melbourne when both teams were at the bottom of the ladder.  How things have changed and so has Rob, with ten year’s experience under hisbelt.

Rob’s career highlight to date was umpiring the Elimination Final in 2014 between North Melbourne and Essendon with Chris Donlon and Dean Margetts.  The game went down to the wire and the noise and atmosphere was electric.  Rob had earlier umpired a final after being called in to replace Scott Jeffery in 2011.

Rob enjoys the challenge that is required to be a field umpire as it forces him out of his comfort zone, and challenges him physically and mentally in equal parts.  He believes it has pushed him to be the best version of himself, and introduced him to some amazing people who have become great friends along the way. He is deeply grateful for all that umpiring has brought to his life.

Field umpiring at AFL level is demanding, especially when you are required to maintain a high level of professionalism each week during a long season.  Rob strives to keep his weekly routines consistent, regardless of whether it is round 1 or 22, or who or where he is umpiring. These routines consist of completing all physical and coaching training requirements, extra conditioning away from the group, adequate sleep, nutrition and hydration, thinking about how the game might unfold in terms of playing styles, knowing players names and ensuring that he has a clear mind and a healthy amount of anxiety as he steps out onto the field.

Rob is thankful he has such a caring and supportive family and employer who help him balance his work, family and umpiring commitments. Rob is especially appreciative of his selfless partner, Olivia, who looks after everything to do with their three children and home, and puts up with his absences without complaint. His extended family is always on hand to help out which makes life easier for everyone and he appreciates the fact that they, and friends, are remarkably patient when it comes to long times between visits. His employer, BAE Systems, where Rob is known to be employed as a ‘rocket engineer’ provides him with the flexibility to come and go around his umpiring and family commitments, providing the job gets done.

Reaching his 200th milestone gives Rob the opportunity to reflect on the many people who have mentored and supported him during his career, and for the many friends he has made along the way.  He is particularly thankful to his family – Helen and Michael, and siblings Mark and Kasey who have always been there for him and have supported him during the many highs and lows of his career. 

Rob also thanked Hugh Moore, Lindsay Hardman and Don Corrie, together with their families and other umpires at the Dandenong Umpires’ Association for the wonderful introduction to umpiring he received. Peter Marshall, Michael Viney and the umpires at Southern Umpires’ Association reignited his passion for umpiring and gave Rob the confidence that he could progress to higher levels.  This was further enhanced by Kevin Mitchell and Peter Howe who pushed him hard to further develop his skills both on and off the field at VFL level.

During his time with the VFL, Rob took an interest in umpires’ welfare and was Vice-President of the Victorian Football Umpires’ Association for three years before stepping up to the role of President for a further two years.  He cemented lifelong friendships with many, including Peter Kelly, Andrew Mitchell and Michael Jennings, who have ridden the bumps with him every step of the way.

At the AFL, Rowan Sawers took a chance on him, where he came from nowhere to his appointment as a rookie in 2008, which gave him a chance to settle into the group and understand the expectations of AFL umpiring without too much pressure. In appointing him to the list and to his first AFL game in 2009, Rowan gave Rob the confidence that he was capable of performing at AFL level.  Lastly, Rob wished to thank Hayden Kennedy and his team for pushing him to continuously improve and to explore ways in which he could perform consistently at a high level of performance in his umpiring.

In closing, Rob believes umpiring has shaped his character and given him some wonderful opportunities, especially the people he has met along the way.  He summed it up nicely when he said, “Umpiring attracts and is supportive of people from a wide array of backgrounds, which makes it a wonderfully colourful place to be.”

Well done Rob on a fantastic milestone and we wish you all the best for the remainder of the year!

Article written by: AFLUA Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Peter Kelly



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