Dillon has followed his passions through two states to umpire AFL football. His first passion umpiring, began in Adelaide in his teenage years, before following his second passion, Eleni Glouftsis to Melbourne in 2015 while she works towards an AFL contract as the first female field umpire.
Dillon grew up in Adelaide like most young boys, wanting to be an AFL footballer. “I played a lot of junior footy but just got injured too often. I had some running ability so my Dad suggested I give boundary umpiring a try, so I did”, reflected Dillon.
“I umpired the 2008 SANFL grand final but unfortunately missed most of the 2009 season with ankle ligament injuries when I trod on a ball playing kick to kick with my mates. It was both a good thing and a bad thing, bad because I missed a lot of footy, but good because it was the kick up the butt I needed to show me that umpiring was what I wanted to pursue. In 2010 I was appointed to the SANFL grand final and was lucky to be offered a contract to the AFL in 2011.”
Dillon’s quiet nature belies his want to be the best. “I trained under “Whip” (Darren Wilson) because if you want to be better you have to feed off the best. I really loved his mentoring and I threw myself into it.” However, the ankle ligament injury wasn’t kind to Dillon. “I couldn’t train two nights in a row. After each hard night it would blow up and I’d have to rest. It impacted on my base fitness and in some ways I’m still playing catch-up”.
When asked about the transition from a small, elite group of umpires in SA to the larger Melbourne group, Dillon explained that his “love of umpiring is born out of developing strong relationships. When I was first promoted to the AFL I was in awe of those guys and I’d feed off their tips. The longer we umpired together the more we built our friendships and the less intimidating they became. We developed life-long friendships and performed as a tight knit family.”
Dillon’s integration into Melbourne was certainly aided by Shane Thiele who had paved the way and Jason Moore who came across from Adelaide at the same time. Prior to that “the pre-season camps were amazing because it was the only time you’d see all of the boundary umpires from across Australia. In my early days Tim Morrison and I had a healthy rivalry, which developed into a great friendship. The camps broke down the state rivalry and fostered a team atmosphere”.
Dillon believes his best asset is his decision making. “Right from the start of my career I never made the same mistake twice. I have always tried to listen to my coaches and put the feedback into action.”
“I would love to run a game every week, it is just awesome to be involved.”
Congratulations on your milestone of 100 AFL matches.