At the end of every season there is reason to celebrate many wonderful milestones, newly appointed finals umpires and umpires who step up to do grand finals. We should never lose sight of those whose careers come to an end. Four such careers have ended with the final round of the season. All four men have had a huge impact on the culture and each leave a legacy they should be proud off.
John Morris retires after 325 games as a boundary umpire. John is ranked fourth on the all time boundary umpire number of AFL games. Which is no small feat for this journeyman. John was always able to combine his executive workload with his passion for elite sport, umpiring AFL football in SA, NSW and Victoria over a 23 year period. Twenty of those games were finals.
“I underwent post season surgery at the end of 2015 and right now my body is probably feeling better than it has for the past 5 years,” exclaimed John. “I am going to run in some masters athletic events, fitness and racing is engrained in me.”
Jonathan Creasey, is the second significant retirement from SA in 12 weeks. Following the retirement of games record holder Darren Wilson at the end of round 14. Jonathan leaves with an equally impressive record of 307 games, including 29 finals and 4 grand finals. In his 16 years on the list Jonathan has umpired the second most finals in the games history, which proves his absolute consistency. “I have given it my all,” said Jonathan when he contacted us to let us know of his retirement. “To be honest I’ve had a great time and now it’s somebody else’s turn.” The big 3 in SA, Wilson, Thomson and Creasey are now done to one. Between them they have set a standard for officiating AFL football that will be carried on for a generation. “We have nurtured and supported many young guys over the years and they have been given their chance. Now it’s time for them to stand up.”
Gerard Large retires after a nine year career and officiating in 201 games. Two of those games were finals. On reflection after his 200th game Gerard said, “It was my time, I had a wonderful opportunity to participate in the game I love at the elite level.” One of Gerard’s running mates, Chris Gordon ran with Gerard 4 weeks ago urging Gerard to change his mind because he was running so well. Gerard said in part, “I’ve never ran as well and with as much freedom as I have over the past few weeks after realising it was my time. My legacy will be about consistency, being coachable and playing my role.”
The last retiree is WA based goal umpire, Dale Edwick. Dale retires with 123 games under his belt and one of the longest serving umpires on the AFL WA panel. Dale was first contracted in 2006 and has enjoyed 11 years on the panel. “I suppose over the past few years I have been the “grandfather” of the group as they have grown and prospered,” laughed Dale. Dale, who has a young family headed back to university research to complete his Ph.D. Dale works as a physiotherapist in the burns unit at the Fiona Stanley hospital under the auspice of Dr Fiona Wood in Perth. “The opportunity to return to study to give me long term security in my employment and to spend more time with my wife and girls meant something had to give. I’ve loved the ride and I will miss the camaraderie terribly,” said Dale when we spoke to him about his decision. “It was easy in the end, although it became quite emotional. None of my colleagues knew until after my last game. I didn’t want them distracted with finals around the corner. It’s never been about me. I sat and watched the footy from Adelaide on telly on Friday night and found myself enjoying it for the first time in a long while. I then knew it was my time.”
Article written by: AFLUA CEO, Peter Howe
Pictured: Jonathan Creasey with his Melbourne mates after his last game at the MCG in Round 23. From left to right – Shane Thiele, Adam Coote, Jonathan Creasey and Rob Haala.