Low scores, a couple of blowouts and a heap of warm and humid weather across the country didn’t stop AFL football from hitting our television screens for round one, across four days last week.
On the back of the great football came a series of milestones for our umpires. Matt Stevic umpiring his 400th combined game of AFL football. This great achievement from our 5 time All Australian field umpire includes pre-season matches and International rules matches.
A little further down the list comes the first milestone for boundary umpire Tim Lougoon. Tim notched up his 100th AFL match in the season opener on Thursday night at the MCG in front of over 80,000 fans.
Turning to our next group of milestones, our 2019 debutants. Josh Furman becomes the 579th boundary umpire to officiate at VFL/AFL level. He debuted in 32 degree heat at the MCG and certainly knew he was umpiring a game of footy. Nick Swanson became the 580th boundary umpire to officiate at VFL/AFL level when he walked onto the Gabba on Saturday evening. Nick has never umpired in front of more than a few thousand spectators in his whole career. He smashed that record out of the park running in front of over 20,000 spectators all cheering Brisbane home for a memorable win over WCE. Nick said he encountered a few more firsts on the night including, first night game and the first time he’s experienced a ball covered in oil, and drenched from the humid conditions.
Justin Power, our third debutant returned to Perth to umpire in front of family and friends in the Fremantle v Nth Melbourne match. Justin becomes the 442nd VFL/AFL field umpire appointed to an AFL match.
Matt Nicholls streak of 79 consecutive AFL games from Rd 14 2015 until Rd 23 2018 came to an end with an injury forcing him out of Rd 1 2019. Matt’s streak was the 10th longest in the history of the game for field umpires. Matt will take to the field this weekend in a VFL practice match while on the road to recovery.
Ray Chamberlain debuted in channel seven’s coverage of the season opener, Richmond v Carlton. Ray certainly had to compete for air time with the six or seven other commentators. His role was to assist viewers better understand the new laws and interpretations. Let’s see if we see more of him over the coming rounds.