Early days in field umpire, Rob Findlay’s career there was confusion among the group about just what his occupation was. That’s easy said Giesch (former umpires’ manager Jeff Gieschen) he’s a “rocket scientist,” and it has stuck!
An aeronautical engineer, working for BAE Systems, Rob reflected on the meaning of his ANZAC day appointment in his third year on the list, “working in defence with BAE Systems, added significant meaning to my day, particularly the playing of the last post. It will be a day I will never forget.”
Rob’s elevation to the list as a rookie in 2008 was anything but conventional. He was called up in February when a number of other trialing umpires struggled to meet the physical benchmarks. “I ran my 5km time trial at the Police Academy in Mt Waverley surrounded by the whole Melbourne group who ran with me and assisted getting me through the test, it was surreal.” It was from that moment on he became more confident that he could make the final list in 2009. “Being a rookie improved my learning, training and being coached by Rowan Sawers was an untold benefit, I got a real taste for it,” reflected Rob today.
Two of Rob’s attributes, his composure and decision-making accuracy, come on the back of his belief that preparation is the key to success. “Getting the right amount of sleep, knowing players names, being very well versed in the laws of the game and understanding the DVD of interpretations are paramount. It means I can go out onto the ground to simply do my job and not be noticed.”
Like his appointment to the list Rob got a call up for his only finals match on the morning of the game. Scott Jeffery’s wife had gone into labour and Rob, who was due to sit as the emergency umpire in a final on Saturday night was put into the Collingwood v WCE match at the MCG in front of 90,000 people. “I had no chance to think about it, I packed my bag and went to the ground as soon as I got the call. While I got a little nervous as soon as I walked onto the ground I calmed down and I knew what I had to do.”
Rob’s 100th game signals the end of his apprenticeship. “It’s not about game numbers, it’s about quality of performance and getting more finals now, that is important.”
Rob has great praise for his first coach Hugh Moore at Dandenong for providing an environment like that of a nurturing family, with Hugh fiercely protective of his umpires. Peter Marshall in the Southern Umpires who showed great faith in him and threw him into Peninsula senior footy at a young age. Then there is Kevin Mitchell at the VFL. “It was not all plain sailing with Mitch but he knew how to get the most out of his umps. Rowan and Giesch gave me some wonderful opportunities and instilled into me a belief that I could be successful at this level.”
His wife, Olivia assists Rob especially with his fitness and nutrition as she is a very good athlete and understands what is required. Since the birth of his daughter Harriet, “you go home after a day at work or umpiring and she just takes your mind off the lot. She provides a great balance in our lives.”
May your rocket fly for many more games Rob.