Tasmanian based goal umpire, Mark Ensbey umpired his first AFL game yesterday when he lined up in the Western Bulldogs v Adelaide match, becoming the 337th goal umpire to umpire an VFL/AFL match.

Mark originated in Queensland and played for the Ispwich Eagles in the Southern Queensland Football League.  When he moved to Hobart he responded to a television advertisement seeking umpires.  He started as a boundary umpire until a knee injury forced him to take twelve months off before he returned as a goal umpire.

Mark has been goal umpiring since 2009.  He has umpired three of the last four state league grand finals.  Mark has been the TSLUA president for the past two years.

Mark’s wife Amanda travelled across to support Mark in his first match.  “I think she was more nervous than me,” laughed Mark today.  “I was fine until the match com vest was fitted, then I realised it was for real.  The rooms were extremely calm and I have no doubt that Luke Walker had a very big impact on that.  He carries no stress or anxiety.  I was presented with an engraved whistle to commemorate my first game.  The whole team got together.  It was a great occasion.”

The moment Mark stepped onto the ground he went into game mode.  It was then about the first score, first goal, first score review.  “I have looked at the coaching vision and practiced what I had to say when I had a review.  Chris Appleton gave me some good advice about remaining calm and taking my time I put that to good use.”

Jordan Bannister returned for his first AFL game since July 2013 when he was given leave and subsequently retired.  Jordan was reinstated to the list in March this year and has been undertaking a very solid pre-season which included a number of VFL matches.  He slotted right in and showed just how much he loved being with his mates umpiring at the highest level.

The AFL has appointed a new rookie field umpire in Queensland.  Kayne Lund is currently a NEAFL umpire.  He works as a policeman in Brisbane.  Kayne played senior football before becoming interested in umpiring a few years ago and he has made great inroads since taking up the whistle.

Rookie and current player to umpire pathway participant, Brent Wallace has had his first taste of AFL footy on the weekend when he was appointed as the emergency field umpire in the Melbourne v Sydney match.  Brent is also making good progress, umpiring VFL senior football as he searches for a place on the senior panel.

Travel was the name of the game on the weekend.  James Savage umpired his first game on the MCG after 11 years on the list umpiring out of Canberra.  Michael Saunders and Liam Rowe (emergency field) both umpired at Etihad Stadium yesterday for the first time.  Michael, last years grand final boundary umpire had not seen the inside of Etihad.  Both umpires are Sydney based.

However, the best is always left till last.  Michael Palm sat as the emergency goal umpire on Friday evening in Wellington New Zealand and on Sunday walked onto the MCG with David Dixon in the Richmond v Hawthorn game to work with David Dixon in his 300th game.

Channel 7 commentator and ex Richmond player, Mathew Richardson has always had a good relationship with umpires over many many years.  So when he arrived at training last Wednesday he got into the spirit and had a crack at bouncing and throw-ins under the guidance of Chris Gordon and Rob Findlay.  It was only when Luke Walker beat him having shots for goal that he spat the dummy and walked off the ground claiming a tight hammy.  Good work “Richo” for coming down and humanising umpiring.


Mark Ensbey

Pictured: Debut AFL Goal Umpire – Mark Ensbey