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Ever wondered how those people in white out in the middle of the paddock got to doing what they're doing? Well... here's your chance to find out.

In this section, some of the WRFL's best umpires, both young and old, take off their uniforms and tell us how they first came about picking up the whistle, what makes them keep doing it in the face of freezing cold winters and muddy football fields (and, dare we say it, sometimes unfriendly crowds), and what they like the most about calling the shots in Australia's great game.

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Cameron Terrill

Field

Like many young umpires, Cameron began his career on the boundary, though circumstances tried to stop him getting on the field. "My first appointed game was an U18s game at Hoppers Crossing. I remember getting up and was extremely nervous but excited, however when I got to the ground, the game had been forfeited as the opposition didn't have enough players to fill a side." A second debut attempt the following week at Deer Park proved more successful, and Cameron hasn't looked back.

Starting at just 13, Cameron had plenty of time to hone his umpiring skills running the lines, but nonetheless moved quickly through the ranks with the Division 1 U18 GF in 2011 and the Division 2 decider the following year. The rapid progression enabled a smooth transition to the field, where he has continued building an impressive resumé, achieving a long held goal of umpiring at the top level in two disciplines, picking up the WRFLUA Most Promising Field Umpire gong in 2013 and accumulating three senior Grand Finals by the age of 19, including the Division 1 Reserves last season.

An electrical engineering student at RMIT, Cameron enjoys all the great aspects of umpiring, such as camaraderie, friendship, meeting new people, keeping fit and the general challenges it poses. Not one to look too far ahead, his 2016 goals include performing consistently and being the best umpire he can be.

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Dean McGowan

Field

Dean's umpiring journey began under the watchful eye of Terry O'Donnell, and the experience in his debut match continues to propel his career: "After mirroring him for the first quarter, midway through the second he asked if I wished to run the play on my own. After shadowing behind me, Terry didn’t even come out in the fourth quarter, giving me huge confidence in how I officiated the game and that umpiring was the right choice for me". Family and friends provided support in different ways; Mum took photos while his best mate jeered his walk onto the ground.

In just his second season, Dean was appointed to the U16A Grand Final, confirming his status as an upcoming umpire. Higher honours followed in 2014 with the Division 2 U18 Division GF and he confirmed his place in the top flight with the Division 1 U18 decider the following year.

Dean's busy off-field life (he juggles bartending at Mynt in Werribee with studies in accounting at RMIT) means umpiring gives him an outlet to enjoy himself and forge friendships while working on his personal development: "I enjoy the professionalism and mateship of umpiring. Qualities required to umpire, such as dedication, leadership, fitness and knowledge are qualities I personally carry with me through life. The banter shared at training and on game day creates strong relationships between the association and community and I can see why so many guys have dedicated a majority of their life to umpiring the sport we all love".

Still relatively new to umpiring, Dean is continually looking to improve and finish higher than last year. Early form suggests that is eminently achievable.

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Robert Hill

Boundary

At just 14 years of age, Robert Hill remembers being extremely nervous before his first game and equally fatigued afterwards. Fast forward six years later and he's quite the opposite; a no-nonsense veteran of the boundary line who possesses a booming throw and can run all day.

Success was slow to arrive for Rob - a first grand final didn't come until the U16A's in 2013 - but he has come on in leaps and bounds since cracking senior football. After running the Division 1 U18s decider the following year, he had a wonderful 2015, performing consistently enough to take the most promising boundary umpire award and earn selection in the Division 1 Senior GF. Next week, he'll even be able to put running on the MCG on his CV when he officiates at the Richmond v St Kilda legends match.

Now 20, Rob is already one of the old stagers of the forever changing boundary group, but in good news for them, he has no intentions of taking off just yet. His immediate goal is to repeat last season's efforts and run the last game of the year once again, then see where next year takes him. 

There's plenty of activity in Rob's life - during the day he works at Airodrome Trampoline Park in Altona - but as far umpiring goes, it's the mateship that keeps him coming back.

 

 

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Stefan Bjelosevic

Field

Our latest field umpire to taste state football tells us how he got there.

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Ryan Webster

Field

This youngster is making big strides in season 2015.

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Bianca Michetti

Boundary Umpire

Like many umpires, Bianca Michetti started umpiring as a young girl after she was dragged down to training by one of her siblings. Her older sister, in this case. The young 15 year old had been a club umpire ("clubbie") a few times for her local footy team (the one her uncle happened to be coaching in the under 16s), and was looking for something interesting to do. It was her older sister, Rosie, who dragged her down to Scovell Reserve and told her that if she was going to be an umpire, she might as well do it right (and get paid for it at the same time).

Bianca is now 24 and studying her Masters in Clinical Exercise Physiology at Deakin and has 6 months to go. She lives at home with her Mum and Dad (and brother and sister) and loves umpiring because of the enjoyment, the fitness, the involvement in footy, and the extra cash it gives her on weekends that would otherwise probably be spent socialising (or studying, depending on the time of year).

Over the years, Bianca has grown into one of the most respected boundary umpires in the league, with a tireless work ethic and commitment to training that recently resulted in her being appointed as a 2013 Division 1 Seniors Grand Final boundary umpire - the first time ever that a female has been appointed to the position.

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Adrian O'Donnell

Field Umpire

One of the most distinguished and longest serving umpires in the WRFL, Adrian O'Donnell is a name that, over the past 20 years, has become synonymous with senior football in the WRFL. He was inducted into the WRFL Umpires Hall of Fame in 2014 and became a Life Member in 2003. He has been a Division 1 Senior field umpire 10 times in the last 15 years, including 4 times back-to-back (2003-4, 2006-7, 2009-10, 2012-13).

At age 16, Adrian umpired his first senior Division 1 game. These days he just can't give it up and strives to do the best job he can in each and every game. He lives by the philosophy that each and every game you umpire is the most important game on that day to those particular players and officials, and you need to act accordingly. Perhaps that's why he's spent the better part of his life at the top of the game, and even added some icing on the cake with a year in the VFL in 2002 before family commitments forced him to pull back.

Adrian is married and has a wife and two young kids aged 6 and 4. He spends his days as a paraplanner (which he describes mysteriously as being "the strategic side of financial planning", whatever that means). He loves umpiring for the involvement in footy and the relationships you are able to develop through the football community.

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Christian Brenner

Field Umpire

Christian joined umpiring via a rather unusual route. He started umpiring in Round 5, 2010 after spending 10 years in the Army Reserve as an infantry soldier. In 2009 Christian started to find his time in the infantry less enjoyable and started to look for alternative pastimes. Then, while at the football one day, he heard the commentators on the radio talking about how, due to lack of umpires in a particular competition, they might not be able to run an Under 9's competition. He thought: "Surely I can do that."

He never expected to do seniors, but his quick in 2011 he did his first Division 2 Seniors game, then his first Division 1 Seniors in 2012. He is a fast learner, and while he's not as quick as some of the other umpires, he likes to think he can compensate with maturity, keeping a cool head under pressure, and always listening to what the coaches have to say. "If I listen to what they say and I do my best to implement change, then I'm doing my best. At the end of the day, that's all anybody can do."

Despite being a field umpire in three Grand Finals, Christian counts the highlight of his umpiring career so far as being one of three field umpires chosen for the 2013 WRFL Good Friday Game because he got to run with two of the umpires from the previous year's Division 1 Seniors Grand Final (Adrian O'Donnell and Mat Westgarth) and it was one of those days where everything just went right. 

This year, Christian is taking a step back after doing last year's Division 1 U18's Grand Final for the second year running. He has a young son and a baby on the way in May. His busy family life coupled with work commitments is forcing him to wind back his training and umpiring commitments for a year to spend more time with his young ones.

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Become an Umpire

hanmer

Contact Us

14 Jan 2015

Getting in touch with the WRFL umpires (and even becoming an umpire) is as simple as a phone call, an email, or the click of a button! Read More