Three senior AFL competitions across Australia are into their grand final weekends. We are filled with great pride watching the future stars of tomorrow be selected for the biggest games of their careers. It was this time last year we were congratulating Nathan Williamson (22 AFL games), Hayden Gavine (10 AFL games), Ben McDonald (21 AFL games), Corey Watkins (17 games), Matt Maclure (8 AFL games) and Dylan Benwell (9 AFL games) who are now forging their AFL careers.
Who has made their state league grand finals?
When is too old, old enough? Not anytime soon according to Corey Bowen who has just been appointed to his 3rd SANFL grand final, a wait of 8 years since his last one in 2009. Corey was a member of the AFL panel for 4 years and umpired 13 AFL games. He returned to the SANFL becoming a 200 game umpire and was made a life member of that organisation in 2016. Corey is joined by current rookie, Giles Lewis who umpires his 50th game and his first SANFL grand final. They are joined by another former rookie and AFLUA member, Toby Medlin who is also umpiring his 3rd grand final. SANFL umpire Michael Schramm is the emergency field umpire.
Current SANFLUA President and former AFL goal umpire, Matt Norton will officiate in his 2nd grand final. Matt umpired 47 AFL games before returning to the SANFL in 2016. Matt will partner SANFL umpire, Thomas Sharpe who is also umpiring his 2nd grand final. Steven Paunovic who was on the AFL list for two years and umpired 14 AFL games is sitting as the emergency goal umpire in what will be his last official game, given his decision to retire from umpiring. The four boundary umpires are Sam Royals, Matt Hermann, Brayden Thiel and Matt Zacher. We wish our SANFL colleagues all the best this Sunday.
Over in the west current rookies, Matt Adams (3rd grand final) and Justin Power (2nd grand final) are joined by Trent McPhee for the WAFL grand final this weekend. WAFL boundary umpires are Sam Moylan, Nick Wrenn, Michael Washbourne and Kyle Sinclair. In the goals is AFL rookie, Sam Hunter and his WAFL counterpart, Brodie Payne.
Former AFL umpire, Nick Brown gets his second VFL grand final this weekend. He will be joined by current rookie Daniel Butcher (3rd GF) and current player to umpire pathway umpire and AFL rookie, Andre Gianfagna, in his first GF. They will be joined by Damien Main on the boundary who was seconded to the AFL panel for the last three months of the year when they were short. Damien umpired 6 AFL games before heading back to the VFL. Current VFL umpires, Patrick Dineen, Patrick Jackson and Kieron Ferguson will make up the four appointed on the boundary. In the goals are Sam Walsh and Simon Plumridge who returns to finals football after missing most of 2016 rehabbing from a knee reconstruction.
We certainly can’t miss Annie Mirabile who is on our female pathway program. She has been appointed to the TAC Cup grand final.
NB. As previously reported the NEAFL grand final was held two weeks ago and was umpired by AFL rookies Cameron Barr and Kayne Nund.