As Craig so eloquently put it, his journey with the AFL has been a pretty wild one with some amazing highs and significant lows. From making the list after 26 state league games, injuries, overseas study trips, delisting, returning to the AFL list, finals panel selection, a lot has happened in the last six years. The one thing that remains with every one of Craig’s 100 games is the thrill of living out the dream of umpiring AFL football.
Craig officiated his 100th AFL game at the Sydney v Adelaide game in Round 2. Originally from Adelaide, Craig enjoys his new home in Melbourne and his local community in the Dandenong Ranges. He does admit to missing having his family and close friends 15 minutes away but has made some fantastic new friends in his local area.
Describing himself as someone who goes about his job quietly and largely unnoticed, he is not one for routines or superstitions. He explains that he does what he feels will benefit him the most for his upcoming game – it might be learning player names if it is a team l haven’t umpired in a while or it might be avoiding anything football related if he needs to clear his mind. About the only thing that Craig does each week is to eat a chocolate bar in the changerooms before each game.
Craig’s most enjoyable game to date was the Sydney v Essendon game in Round 14, 2017. Sydney were down by 3 goals with about 2 minutes left and came back to win with a shot after the siren. Goal umpire Brodie Kenny-Bell had 3 tight score reviews in the final quarter and nailed them all. Craig describes the crowd noise in the closing moments of the game as the loudest he can remember from any of his games.
His career highlight to date was more personal than an achievement on the ground with his involvement in two BCNA (Breast Cancer Network Australia) games in 2014 and 2018. With his mum having suffered from breast cancer, it was great she could come along to the 2018 game for what was no doubt an emotional day for her.
Craig loves field umpiring and the challenge it brings each week. He explains that each game is unique and as a field umpire you are required to adjust to the ebbs and flows of each game. AFL is such an amazing game and it is a privilege to be in the middle with one of the best views of every incredible effort performed by the players.
Being somewhat biased, Craig says his favourite ground is the Adelaide Oval. He singles out Kevin Wallace, who was his coach when he first started umpiring at the Glenelg SASFA as the biggest influence on his career to date. “He was so supportive and was the first person to encourage me to follow my dream of umpiring AFL. He was always willing to provide direction and advice to me as a young, developing umpire.”
Well done Craig on your milestone and wish you continued success for the rest of the season.
Article written by: AFLUA Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Peter Kelly