The boundary umpire factory of South Australia has produced another outstanding athlete, boundary umpire and more important, a great person. Stand and applaud, 400 AFL games, Mark Thomson.
Mark is only the second boundary umpire in the history of the game to officiate in 400 AFL games, the first and current games record holder, another South Australian, Darren Wilson. While Darren holds the record with the most number of grand finals, 12 in succession, Mark seems certain to eclipse Darren’s record of 404 games in early 2020, should he decide to continue umpiring. Certainly, Mark isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In fact, he has umpired 19 of a possible 23 games this season coming off the back of umpiring the 2018 Grand Final, his 6th, which also includes 34 finals appearances. He was also the emergency grand final boundary umpire in 2005 and ‘08. Mark freely admits he was a slow starter. He was added to the AFL list in 1996 umpiring the round one clash between Adelaide and Sydney. Some 23 years later his 400th game was the final home and away game for season 2019, between Port Adelaide and Fremantle.
Congratulations also goes to Dillon Tee who umpired his 150th game at Mars Stadium in Ballarat on Saturday. Dillon is also a product of the SA boundary umpire factory who moved to Melbourne with fiancé Eleni Glouftsis in 2016. Dillon has had to overcome a significant injury this season and has only umpired 6 matches. Dillon is one of the most affable young men going around, but don’t be fooled by his boyish charm. He is as motivated to succeed as the next person having grown up running with the likes of Darren Wilson and Mark Thomson. Well done Dillon.
Young field umpire, Hayden Gavine stepped out for his 50th game when North Melbourne played Melbourne down in Hobart. Hayden who hails from Southern Umpires down on the peninsula made his debut in round 14 2017. Hayden umpired the VFL grand finals in 2015 and 2016. His best moment was umpiring in China this year.
Shane McInerney announced his retirement from the elite umpiring panel last Thursday night in front of his coaches and colleagues. In an emotional farewell, Shane reflected on his time in footy and was very proud of his achievements. For the record they include 502 AFL matches, 26 finals and 2 grand finals. This won’t be the last we hear from Shane.
Dean Margetts becomes the third field umpire to umpire with a father and son, Cameron and Gavin Dore. Previously Brett Rosebury umpired with the same father/son combination and Rowan Sawers umpired with Bill and Gavin Deller.
One hundred games seem to be the benchmark for groups and umpires to mark the milestone with a “perpetual” trophy. Dan Field-Read received his trophy from Rob Taylor (see the picture attached) who has held the trophy for the past three seasons as the last NSW/ACT umpire to achieve the milestone. The “Old Jug” as it is termed was donated by ex AFL goal umpire, Colin Larter. “It sits pride of place on your mantle at home while you get to look after it, until the next umpire officiates in 100 games,” explained Michael Saunders. A close look at the jug reveals it’s origin to be in the early 1990’s when the AFLUA social committee sold the unique tawny port in specially made bottles as part of its many fundraising ventures. Congratulations Dan.
Sam Hay has achieved a unique double in 2019. He was awarded with AFLUA Life Membership in February this year and last Thursday evening received life membership of the SANFL Umpires’ Association at their annual dinner. Sam has been an SANFLUA member for the past 20 years and served on their executive committee for 4 of those years. Congratulations Sam.