The long weekend of football started in great fashion in Adelaide, with the largest crowd for a home and away game in Adelaide making so much noise that the umpires still haven’t heard the three quarter time siren. What a way for Heath Ryan to bring up his 100th AFL match.
Troy Pannell can’t take a trick with Sydney when they play Essendon It is the second time he has umpired this clash in 5 years and on both occasions he has been concussed following a collision with a Sydney player. This time it was Nick Malceski, five years ago it was Kieren Jack.
On this occasion he wasn’t so lucky and had to be stretchered from the ground. The last time the on-set of concussion was delayed and he got up and finished the game. On both occasions he missed the following week. The Essendon and Sydney club medical staff were fantastic and provided great care and attention for Troy when it became obvious he was very unwell.
Troy became the fifth field umpire to be replaced in a match so far this year which is an amazing statistic. Three have been as a result of a soft tissue injury and two caused by player contact. Our goal and boundary umpires still have a clean bill of health, touch wood!
Tristan Burgess replaced Troy on Friday night. It is the third time in his 18 games that he has come off the bench to replace an injured umpire. Beware of the Burgess curse I say!
One of the more quirky stats kept by our statistician, David Flegg, is home and away streaks. Mathew Nicholls had a 49 game streak broken last weekend when he was rested during round 8. His streak commenced in Rd 5 2012 and finished in Rd 7 2014. Mathew joins David Dixon (goal), Scott Hutton (boundary), Shaun Ryan (field) and Ray Sleeth (field) equaling the 38th longest streak in VFL/AFL history.
Historically, field umpire Scott McLaren is the current record holder with 177 consecutive matches. Brett Allen, Brett Rosebury, Ray Chamberlain, Stephen McBurney and Jack Elder are the other umpires to officiate in more than 100 consecutive home and away matches. Current boundary umpire, John Morris has the best record as a boundary umpire of 65 games (Rd 20 2008 – Rd 18 2011) followed by Gerard Large 64 games (Rd 21 2008 to Rd 18 2011) remarkably they both started one round apart in 2008. Goal umpire Craig Clark holds the goal umpire record of 54 games (Rd 17 2000 to Rd 4 2003) It should be noted that selection policies over many years break streaks for boundary and goal umpires.
Chris Esler celebrated his AFL 50th game on the weekend in the Richmond v Melbourne clash at the MCG. Chris started his boundary umpiring career in the Western Region Football League in 2000. He was the VFL umpire of the year in 2011 and was appointed to his first AFL game in round 1, 2012.
Chris had a tough finish to his 2013 season when injury forced him out prematurely. Chris injured his hip when he overtrained while working hard to take his performances to another level. However, when confronted with the prognosis of running to just get through the season or taking a long term view and look towards 2014 and beyond injury free, he wisely chose the latter. “It wasn’t a tough decision really when you are focused on delivering a maximal effort and high level performance and you can’t, then you need to step aside,” reflected Chris.