Boundary umpire Tim Morrison became the 146th umpire to officiate in 200 VFL / AFL matches (51st boundary) and the 12th fastest to achieve such a milestone amongst boundary umpires, when he umpired the Richmond v Hawthorn game at the MCG on 18 June 2020.
Tim joined the AFL as part of a strong contingent from the Western Region Football League back in 2011. Many years before that, he’d taken up umpiring as a 15-year old to earn some pocket money before he started focusing on a boundary umpiring career when a colleague Drew Kowalski was promoted to the VFL. Umpiring alongside Chris Esler and Shane Jones, he took up the challenge and joined them on the VFL list before their eventual promotions to the AFL.
Tim’s love of boundary umpiring is due to the athletic challenge that it brings, and the mental strength required to umpire at your best. In particular, he likes the collegial team aspect that all boundary umpires in a game have with one another which makes all the hard work worth it. At the AFL level, Tim has really enjoyed being able to see different parts of the country, and umpiring in all kinds of conditions, which has been a great bonus too.
Tim umpired his first AFL game in round 1, 2011 – Collingwood v Port Adelaide at Docklands. Tim’s career highlight was being part of the 2019 preliminary final between Richmond v Geelong in front of a massive crowd at the MCG. It was a see-saw kind of match which was a great experience as well as a lesson in finals footy, having reached a new level of physical and mental exhaustion afterwards.
Another highlight for Tim was being able to umpire in China back in 2018. “It was great to represent the game in another country, especially with three good mates in Dill Tee, Sculls and Jenko.” He also points to his first Anzac Day game in 2013 when he debuted alongside Drew Kowalski and Shane Jones in front of a 94,000 crowd at the MCG. “It was special because l’d come up with Drew and Shane from local footy, then the VFL and here we were at the MCG living the dream.” Another memorable game for Tim was back in 2016 when he umpired on a very cold winter’s night when the temperature hovered just on freezing for the duration of the match.
Tim has made the finals panel for the last three years and puts it down to his umpiring experiences and refocusing his approach to games. “When l first made the panel, l used to watch a lot of games and a lot of highlight shows, just to immerse myself in football. In hindsight, this was a bit over the top and l think it made me nervous and anxious about my own performance and led me to over focus on really small things or worry about items l couldn’t control.” He also thinks having a happy and stable personal life has helped out immensely with getting a better balance in life.
Tim recalls one of funniest moments he had during a game back in 2012. He was bowled over by a player which resulted in a dead-leg and Tim spending a few minutes unable to get up whilst waiting for the feeling to come back to his leg. The Fox Footy cameras picked up trainer Doug Bartlett cleaning some dirt off his leg with a water bottle and then Tim springing back up and continuing with running the game. Tim was forever known as the ‘magic water boundary umpire’ after that.
In order to maintain a high level of professionalism each week during a long season Tim has always been a big proponent of strength work, whether that’s in the gym or doing clinical Pilates. Tim believes this strength work has complimented his running conditioning and has given him a significant uplift in his performance as well as better durability and longevity throughout his career.
Pre-game rituals? Tim likes to get to the ground 2 hours 15 minutes before a game starts. This allows him time to unpack all his uniforms and shoes ready for the game as he changes shirts and sweatbands each quarter. Taboo is to avoid walking or running on the large painted logos on the wings during pre-game warm ups.
Tim’s most admired sports person is Roger Federer. “As l’ve gotten older, Roger has been a dominant player of his sport, but he has maintained a great level of play into his golden years, and is usually quite calm when he plays, something l really admire.”
A great role model for anyone pursuing their dream. Well done mate on your 200th game and we wish you all the best for the remainder of the season.