Here in the AFLUA office we are never far from supporter’s ire. The phones run hot and our email line at times, is prone to melt. Imagine the hysteria we were met with on Monday morning after Shaun Ryan’s comments to GWS player Adam Kennedy on Saturday night. I fail to understand how commentators and then supporters have such short memories. When has anyone on a football field been able to continually punch an opposition player whether he is injured or not? You only need to go back to round 11 when Ben Stratton and Charlie Cameron were seen tangling off the ball with Stratton continually punching and pinching the back of Cameron’s arm. Commentators and supporters were outraged and wanted the behaviour stopped and for the umpire to intervene. Fast forward two weeks and Stratton was reported for doing the same thing to Essendon’s Orazio Fantasia and suspended for 2 weeks. He was told very clearly during the game by Ray Chamberlain, “We are watching you, stop doing it, or you will be free kicked.” Where is the difference?
Spare a thought for boundary umpire, Dan Field-Read who was selected for his second final in Brisbane on Saturday night. Last Monday morning, Dan found himself in hospital with acute appendicitis. He was hoping to deal with it non-surgically but his appendices were having none of it and promptly burst. Michael Marantelli replaced Dan in the selected team. Dan is now in a race against time to hopefully be fit for selection next week.
Adam Coote and Mark Thomson continue to prove the pundits wrong and keep pushing the “young gun” boundary umpires all the way. Both ‘old’ fellas who have umpired more than 700 games between them, fronted up for their second finals in Brisbane on Saturday night and performed admirably in a very tough game.
Here’s a stat that will take some beating. Allan Cook umpired 256 games including 19 finals and 3 grand finals in his umpiring career that spanned 13 years between 1991 – 2003. Allan then spent 3 years coaching boundary umpires in the Western Region Football league nurturing the likes of current AFL boundary umpires – Tim Morrison, Chris Esler and Josh Mather. He commenced AFL observing in 2007 and has just completed his 13th season in this role. According to Cookie, he has now observed more games than he umpired. A 26-year involvement at the elite level is an amazing commitment. Well done Cookie.
David Flegg AM, returns from his sojourn overseas tomorrow and will be invested with his Queen’s Birthday honour at Government House on Friday.