Emergency field umpire, Chris Donlon made history on Friday night when he appeared on the ground during the third quarter, wearing a puffy jacket and a beanie, and blew his whistle to award a free kick against Joel Selwood for high contact on his opponent.

Commentators everywhere were wondering who was masquerading as an umpire on field and could he award a free kick?  Of course, the emergency umpire was given permission to award a free kick back in 2011 but has only ever been used sparingly since.  However, it is definitely the first time anyone has awarded a free kick in a beanie and puffy jacket.  Sometimes you just don’t have time to get your gear off.  At least he had his whistle ready to go.

Travel across to Perth and watch another “blue mooner” occur, this time to goal umpire, Brett Rogers.  Brett was hemmed in against the goal post when the ball bounced back into play and was kicked, hitting Brett as he stood against the post.  Tradition says when the ball hits an umpire it is as if the umpire was not involved and the ball is alive for the next act of play.  However, again the rules were changed some years ago and reviewed to clearly state that if the ball on its normal trajectory hits an umpire and bounces back into play not crossing the goal line, it is to be adjudged as if the umpire was not standing in the way, what was the score? Quite rightly in this instance a behind was scored as it was judged to have hit the post.

So, what did our three finals debutants have to say about their first finals appearance?

Field umpire Nathan Williamson summed it up best when he said, “What a great buzz.  I wasn’t expecting it, I was in a good mind set and just went out to do a job and smile.”  Goal umpire, Dan Hoskin, who is one of the most laid back characters in the umpiring fraternity when asked how he felt pre-match said, “My anxiety level did double, from one to two!”  Asked whether the crowd noise was louder in his home town of Adelaide or in Perth, Dan finally admitted that, “the noise in the first three quarters was similar to Adelaide, but I’ve never heard noise like it in the last quarter.”  Our last debutant, Adam Bastick had to travel from Perth to Sydney but you wouldn’t see him complain as he walked onto the SCG for the first time, and into a final.

Field umpire David Harris who was also debuting in finals and in Perth said, “It was the loudest noise I’d ever experienced.  He went on to say that while in the 20 minutes pre-match it was the most nervous he’d ever felt, once the ball was bounced and the game started he was calmer than ever before.  “While the game was going I felt the ebbs and flows but I didn’t even realise there we that many lead changes. 

What a great way to bring up a milestone.  Boundary umpire Matt Jenkinson has ticked off a couple in the lead up to the first final. His wife presented him with their second child and he umpired his 150th game in Sydney when they played GWS. This was Matt’s fourth final in his 150 games. 

This week the finals panel is halved and despite a weekend of very good performances there will be some unfortunate casualties.  Like teams, umpires from four matches last weekend, won’t go into two games this week.

Good luck to all those who will feature.

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