AFL boundary umpire, Darren Wilson officiated in his 400th AFL game on Friday night.  Darren becomes the first boundary umpire and fifth umpire after, Hayden Kennedy (495) Shane McInerney (429) Rowan Sawers (410) and Stephen McBurney (401) to make 400 games.  Interesting to note that Darren’s 400 games include 36 regular finals and 12 straight grand finals (1998 – 2009).  His tally increases with four night grand finals, four state of origin games and an international rules game.

When we spoke with Darren on Wednesday night at training he admitted to being a little nervous with all of the additional attention he was receiving this week.  Darren we salute you.

The last of our debutants for 2016  made it onto the ground in the Brisbane v Collingwood game on Saturday night.  Peter, with one year of NEAFL under his belt came through the ranks extremely quickly.  His athletic prowess is understated and his composure under pressure with age and experience on his side saw him added to the panel on the eve of the season.  Peter becomes the 568th boundary umpire to officiate in VFL/AFL football.  So what was his experience like?  I’ve never heard noise like it,” explained Peter today, “The magpie supporters were giving us hell in the warm up an hour before the game!  The noise was so deafening at times I didn’t even hear the field umpires whistle.”  So how has Peter recovered? “My hamstrings are very sore at the moment, but I did run 20 kilometres yesterday!”  Well done Peter.

Damien Cusack has taken two and a half years to accumulate his 50 AFL games.  Damien headed to Launceston to bring up his first milestone and is looking forward to adding to his total.  “It took me 12 years to make it onto the AFL panel, I’m not going to throw this opportunity away too quickly,” remarked Damien when we caught up with him today.

Andrew Mitchell has hit a milestone that was overlooked by this office when he umpired his 150th VFL match on May 7.  Andrew who now has 73 AFL games, including one final beside his name certainly wasn’t keen to hit that mark in the VFL because it meant he wasn’t gaining selection on the AFL panel.

Chris Esler oversaw the best result yet as the campaign manager for the “Wings for life world run” that we had advertised on this website.  Not only did Chris manage the event he also ran in it after his AFL game the day before.  Other umpires who competed in the event included, Graham Bergroth who ran 40 kilometres and goal umpire Courtney Lai who ran16 kilometres before the finishing car caught them.  Other umpires and officials who ran were Jordan Bannister, Lachlan Rayner, Matt Stevic, Matt Tomkins, James Scully, Hayden Kennedy, Luke Ball and evergreen Stephen McBurney.  Steve ran in this event fresh off his Canberra marathon. Is he looking towards a comeback in the four umpire system?  The AFL umpires also donated a sensational 770 Euro towards the spinal cord research charity.  Well done to everyone involved.

Poor Drew Kowalski can’t take a trick at the moment, he has missed one game with illness and now has been forced to miss another round due to injury.  On the back of a sensational 2015 season Drew doesn’t know which way to look at the moment, thinking he has really missed the bus so far in 2016.

We hosted our Past Presidents luncheon on Thursday at the Emerald hotel.  Twenty past presidents and secretaries attended.  It was great to see Ken Quinn attend his first and it was good to have Peter Matheson back after a few years of ill health.  Troy Pannell was amazed to sit and chat with our men of the association from years ago.  Bill Terrill, aged 94 who was president in 1959 headlined those in attendance.

Written by: AFLUA CEO, Peter Howe


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