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The Home of the WRFL Umpires Become an Umpire Today

Issue 1 - April 2017

A new home. A new uniform. A new newspaper. A new era (Good-bye to Scovell News!)

We begin with some good news. Both Harry Spurling and Edmund Mitchell were head-hunted and are now elsewhere in the newspaper industry. Privacy laws prevent us from divulging that one is out west and the other one is Inverleigh. Two new inspiring writers were interviewed and were very keen until they met five of our running umpires. No doubt you will know who those five were because immediately the pair turned tail and disappeared. This left Stephen Berry and Dane Cowper, both of whom know nothing about reporting, writing, editing, publishing or football. They were arrested and ordered to do six hours of community service. That covers this issue. A warrant has been issued for their arrest so that these two can be forced to put together issue number two.

For those reading this newspaper for the first time please be aware that it is complete and utter dribble. The names are made up and the stories are totally fictional. If the people seem familiar and the events ring a bell then get up and answer the door. And if anything resembles something you’ve seen or heard just be patient. Soon you will wake up and discover that it was just a dream and you know nothing about umpiring.

As you know, this wonderful newspaper only reports on incidents and stories about football. Needless to say that in early February, Vaughan Garner was moonlighting as a wicketkeeper with Glenroy in the VTCA North West A2 Comp. The game was against Williamstown CYMS where the Hill family have close connections. It wasn’t long before Robert Hill wandered out to bat for the Willy based team. As he took strike, Vaughan decided to subject him to some mental disintegration. (I think that means sledging. I think that means putting him off his game.) Obviously it did the trick because in the attempt to get off the mark, young Hilly ran his partner out. Robert had the last laugh because come the following week, Vaughan was out for a duck and CYMS took the win.

Back in November when Willy CYMS was playing Seabrook in the North West D2 grade, there were four WRFL umpires playing. Bernie O’Dwyer (no wickets in 4 overs) and Mitchell Haberecht (6 for 12 in 5 overs) opened the bowling. Jessee Hill was bowled by former umpire Haberecht for a duck while father, Craig, decided not to bat and their team crumbled for just 8/30 off just 10.4 overs. In reply the Seabrook mob raced to 5/60 before pulling stumps. Haberecht scored a breezy 23 before Jessee extracted some revenge by skittling his stumps. Craig Hill decided to retire from cricket again! Come the football season he is now in better shape than he would have been if he had played every game which he did the year before.

Be warned: There are more articles and if you continue reading you could be mentioned!

One umpire decided to go for an active walk in early February around McIvor Reserve and noticed a small group of young females running around practising football. The coach was barking encouraging instructions as the young teenagers were improved their skills. The loud voice was quite familiar. It was none other than ex-ump Simon Kingswell.

Former FDFL field umpire, John Shadlow, has turned his hand to umpiring cricket in the Western Suburbs Churches & Community Cricket Association. He’s been doing it for a couple of seasons and says that he is really loving it. A check of our umpiring records show that John Shadlow was the sole field umpire for the 181 Under 15B grand final where Wembley Park 17-15-117 defeated North Footscray 7-10-52.

What’s happening to all the WRFL goal umpires? At the last count there were four (out of 61) who were having major problems with their knees. They were either waiting for specialist appointments, getting ready for an operation or recovering from an operation. It’s all about four knees: Tim Moloney, Craig Hill, Derek Polden and young Zac Perry.

A Tale of Two Citizens: (Story 1) I was waving some friends goodbye by the curb when I spied the young boundary umpire walking towards home after a day at school. Remembering that I had his grand final medallion inside, I dashed to retrieve it, sprinted after him calling his name and waving the medallion. When I reached him I checked that it was his name on the medallion and then I asked him if he did that grand final. He said no and wandered off home. Immediately I thought that Henry McFerran had made another mistake by putting the wrong name on the medallion. A Tale of Two Citizens: (Story 2) I was walking home from the bus stop where the school bus had dropped me when this old bald guy came running at me yelling and swinging some sort of weapon around and around. I positioned myself into a defensive position and prepared for contact. Obviously my unknown super powers took effect and the wild attacker stopped in his tracks, mumbled a few words as he looked at the gold disk on the end of the chain. He shook his head and then retreated from whence he came which allowed me to continue on home. A Tale of Two Citizens: (Postscript) That boundary umpire did do the game and eventually did get his medallion! Eventually.

“I can’t train because they took something out of my back,” said John Sutton. “And if you don’t believe me then have a look!” Jumbo turned around, pulled up his shirt to display a large bandage stuck to the middle of his back. Another goalie wandered past and remarked, “That’s not where they pulled the knife out, hey, John?”

Which well known WRFL umpire actually wraps his car in large sheets of black plastic when it’s at home in the driveway? It seems like a flock of birds perch in the branches of a tree and empty their bowels directly onto his car making a terrible mess.

Great statements of the 2017 local football season: “You can’t pull your underpants out and wipe your forehead.” (Richard Watt to a crowd of first year umpires); “This is a white under top that I wear under my uniform.” (Mathew Westgarth holding up a two tone under top that was cream and pale brown); “Where am I?” (Adam Steger on the training track at Seddon); “I take a 3X jacket.” (Graeme Hodgart to Rene van Kuyk as he tried on a jacket that looked like a circus tent); “Look at that young lout. He should have a surfboard, not a whistle!” (Craig Hill on seeing Jarod Sutton with his mass of long hair).

Have you noticed the tremendous precipice at Seddon immediately to the east of the clubrooms? Only a simpleton would try to negotiate that uneven rough terrain that drops away alarmingly. Either that or a very lazy person. Trevor Budge decided that it was the shortest route from change room to car. Result: A slight stumble and a badly twisted ankle. Plus some very amused on-lookers. Now everybody knows!

The goal umpires were going through a drill that involved using a football near the middle of the Seddon ground. Half way through the drill a booming voice called out, “Hey! Can I use that football?” It was Richard Watt who was too lazy to go fifty metres to the clubrooms and find a footy. The goalies didn’t give up their football but luckily they had another one nearby in a bag.

Speaking of footballs ... it appears that one of them has already gone missing after only being used for one single session! It is everybody’s responsibility to look after all the various equipment that the umpires use.

Wasn’t getting fitted out a great experience? At one stage there were about fifty sweaty bodies in various stages of undress trying on the new gear or waiting to try on the new gear. Maybe this is a good chance to remind everyone about some very basic health tips. It is a very good idea to shower after training. Also training gear and day-to-day clothing should be washed on a regular basis. Pegs will be available near the door on nights of meetings just in case some people forget the basic principles of hygiene. Soap helps.

One umpire was having some tiling done at home. He got talking to the tradesmen and as the tiler worked the umpire helped out a little bit here, getting a drink, finding a tool, etc. The tiler lamented that he couldn’t find a lackie to assist him. Somehow the umpire, long since retired, was talked into working two weeks, cash in hand, for the tiler. (PB?)

Umpires hardly ever get mentioned in the local newspapers but lo and behold there was a whole page in the sports section devoted to the men in white soon to be in green and grey. Well nearly. There were two articles. Firstly there was the story on Brendan Sheehan from the Footscray Hocket Club. Brendan umpired the 2001 Under 12B grand final as a field umpire when the Western Magpies 6-5 defeated North Sunshine 4-13. The second article was about the Yarraville Cricket Club and had a decent sized photo of Josh Hahnel in a batting pose during a recent game. Josh is a current WRFL field umpire. (I think.)

There have been several times already this pre-season when the roads in and around the Western Suburbs have become gridlocked due to accidents. This has meant that some umpires (and coaches) were unable to get to their proposed destinations or were extremely late in arriving. One such night was the Wednesday night coaching sessions for the goal umpires at 6pm and the boundary umpires at 7pm held at Seddon. The goalies had just finished their talk and the boundary umpires were gathering when a car pulled up in Harris Street and out popped two goal umpires in Ella and Kai Logan. “You’re a bit late for the 6pm goalies’ meeting,” remarked one long serving umpire. “No. We’re here for the 7 pm boundary umpires’ meeting.” Magic! One minute goal umpires and then in the blink of an eye. Hey, presto! Boundary umpires! Easy come. Easy go.

Well hello. Bumped into Alan Pascoe at the Werribee Districts v Wyndhamvale game. He was there watching his grandson play for the home team. He did rather well kicking three or four goals and being a handful for the defence. Alan is very one-eyed but it was good to catch up with him. He is now playing three rounds of golf each week out at Bacchus Marsh or Rockbank or Romsey or some place like that. Just recently he picked up a trophy for winning his section.

High on the leader board of umpires to take a tumble during the season is Cameron Terrill. He presently leads the field umpiring list with one. Please let us know if you take a tumble or you see one of your mates hit the ground.

Congratulations to Merv Bartley, Evan Eliopoulos, Henry McFerran (field), Abhishak Sharma, Adrian Terrill (boundary), Craig Hill and Michael Lynch (goal) who are off to the MCG this Saturday to do the Richmond Legends game. It should be a great experience for them all and an opportunity to umpire on the hallowed MCG turf.

Is it true that at least one running umpire knocked back the opportunity to be a part of this occasion? I know for a fact that one wasn’t keen but he was included. Another was asked but declined. Really? You’ve gotta have rocks in your head. (Sorry RW) No names!

There was an awkward silence on Tuesday when the coach of the goalies gathered his troops together to announce a few important decisions. He began with the MCG game and when he introduced it he looked over to Michael Lynch for some acknowledgement. He didn’t get any so he politely asked, “You do know about the special game on Saturday, don’t you?” No response. “You have been getting all the emails about the game, haven’t you?” Michael spoke up, “I’ve been away from work on holidays so I have no access to my emails.” More prolonged silence. “Well, Michael,” said the coach, “I want you and Craig Hill to wander over there and have a little bit of a chat.” Two minutes later he was back in the group smiling and giving the coach the thumbs up. (A friendly sign not a naughty signal!) “Now,” said the coach, “I’d like to announce the two goalies for the MCG game for this Saturday...”

This was overheard at the local football. Eight year old boy talking to his seven year old mate: “We are children. We can’t get arrested.” What were they planning to do?

All umpires aged eighteen & over must get themselves a Working With Children Check.

The new gear looks good. There were always going to be some teething problems. An initial delay with some of the larger sizes was not a fantastic way to begin. Then the goal umpires’ caps and jackets are still two weeks away. Some umpires couldn’t make the fitting time and quite a few were not able to get to the times when the gear was handed out. By about round 5 everyone should be looking good in the green and the grey.

Alan Pascoe said that the two goal umpires were out of step with each other. The observer didn’t agree and asked him when. Alan then added, “In the change rooms.”

It was only a practise game but one goalie was keen to impress his senior partner. By the time the team had broken from their three quarter time huddle, he was already off marching towards his goal. The other goalie was glad he lingered a few seconds longer because that’s when a young lad from the home team appeared with an enormous bag of lollies and offered them to the umpires who were still in the middle of the ground.

Payment at practise games can be an interesting subject. Michael Willcox loves the half payment because in Tasmania you don’t get any payment for doing the games. Who would volunteer over there? Sanctuary Lakes hosted Keilor Park and the game was listed to be played over six quarters. This means full fee. Was the home team aware of that? It was a warm day and even before the game started there were discussions about how long the game would go. Eventually, five ‘quarters’ was agreed upon by both teams. Boundary rider Miller Slingsby found the going really taxing and lay prone on the turf at one of the breaks trying to recover. After two quarters one team trotted off while the umpires milled around in the centre of the ground. The second team then left and the umpires did as well. Sanctuary Lakes interchanged their players through the last ‘half’ while Keilor Park ran out of puff and fresh legs. At the end of the five quarters everyone was happy to be in the shade and find some cool drinks. The umpires waited patiently for their payment. And waited. Then one umpire went to seek out the team manager. He was found calculating out the payment for each umpire to the last cent. Payment arrived neatly presented in small white lolly bags. One umpire was not happy. No lollies!

A week later when Tarneit took on Rockbank the club asked that boundary umpires not be appointed. When the club official handed over the money one umpire said, “Thanks but you are paying us too much.” (It became obvious that the club had calculated money for the boundary umpires and was distributing it between the two field and two goal umpires.) The club was happy to pay that amount and the umpires were happy to take the extra cash especially when the official said, “Well, that’s what I paid the umpires in the reserves.” Enough said.

A bit of a dilemma. Some young guys were having a kick to kick when a wayward kick went spiralling over the fence and crashed into the roof of an ambulance which was parked beside the fence of the oval. The remarkable thing was that the football after bouncing, wobbling and rolling actually stayed on top of the vehicle. Luckily the guy who had jumped the fence was able to reach the Sherrin and resume kicking with his mates.

All umpires aged eighteen & over must get themselves a Working With Children Check. (This is not a running gag. It has been repeated because it is something that people need to do.)

Welcome back to Adrian O’Donnell. His first run in a practise game was a warm affair but he battled through the heat. His next game was much cooler but a bad back did not help him. And to think that we have only just begun the season. There’s a long way still to go!
Hopefully you can get through the entire season, Adrian.

Scott Vanstone has taken an unusual step of going from fielding umpiring to running the lines. Quite a few of his so-called mates are threatening him with recalling every one of his throw ins. But Scotty has the last laugh. As he is returning the ball back to the centre he’s going to spit on the ball just before he throws it to the field umpire. No, he’s not really going to do that. But then again he just might especially if someone asks him to toss the ball in again because they weren’t too happy with the first attempt.

Good news for former WRFL umpires. Mitchell Taleb (goal), Ryan Webster (field) and Riley Kane (boundary) have all made it onto the VFL Development Squad. Lewis Spiker has been promoted to the VFL Senior List. Well done, one and all!

There’s a familiar voice booming out across the air waves. “This is Anthony Laughton reporting for Macquarie National News.” Unfortunately Anthony had to stop being a boundary umpire because umpiring was getting in the road of his day/night job.

The goal umpires have established a new record. It seems that out of the fifty-seven goal umpires on the list for 2017 that fifty-two of them have attended at least one training session already this season. That’s an attendance rate of 91.23%! Not bad when you consider that we are only approaching Round 2. Admittedly the handing out of uniforms has assisted with such a high rate of attendance. I wonder what percentage the field umpires and the boundary umpires are running at.

The Hanmer Herald is an all inclusive newspaper. We aim to include everyone so in this issue we are including Jorja Auld, Madyen Abdou, Peter Auld, Mootesm Abdulrahman, Kai Abela, Derni Abuebker, Reggee Auld, Sarah Auciello, Mabek Atem, Kane Arnold, Alana Anthony, Tim Bertino, Jacob Angelini, Paul Battaglia, Akhuar Akhuar, Shannessy Adams. Each of these umpires has a story to tell. If you officiate with them, ask them their story.

There have been some good articles about umpires recently. In The Age (6 April) Jordan Bannister wrote basically about umpiring decision making at the AFL level under the heading, “Our AFL umpires are only human.” Bannister played 67 games for Essendon and Carlton and then went on to officiate as a field umpire in 97 AFL matches. This means that he has seen AFL from three perspectives. The player, the umpire and the spectator. Surely he knows what he is talking about. Two sentences jumped out from his well written article. Firstly, “(AFL Field) Umpires make 2.2 errors a game out of 400 plus decisions (factoring in non-decisions).” Secondly, “AFL umpires can take the criticism but it sets the tone for the younger umpires who cop the same criticism over the fence on Sunday.” A huge horde of football supporters will read the article and it is hoped that many of them ponder carefully exactly what it is saying.

Have you remembered? All umpires aged eighteen & over must get themselves a Working With Children Check.

The Footy Record has gone on-line. The first edition was out last Friday. The Umpires Corner segment is listed for those who didn’t get to see it (click here to view). A question was added although this did not appear on-line. (Just one of the big benefits of reading The Hanmer Herald!) 

After the 15 minute half-time break has finished, one team is back on the ground and in their positions along with the field, boundary and goal umpires. There is no sign of the second team. What happens next? (a)The umpires move into position and wait for the second team to enter the ground. (b)The umpires move into position and the controlling field umpire recommences play. (c)The umpires wait in the centre of the ground. A field umpire blows a whistle and attracts the attention of the time-keeper to blow the siren. When the second team emerges then the umpires take up position. When both teams are in position then the game proceeds. The umpires will make a note of the team’s tardiness on the match day green sheet.

(The correct answer was c. although there are many umpires who would love b. to be the right way to go.

The Footy Quiz

  1. When did triple Brownlow medallist Ian Stewart first play for St. Kilda?
  2. Name the two WRFL goal umpires who will wave flags at the MCG in April.
  3. Name the two Krakouer brothers for North Melbourne in the 1980’s.
  4. Which WRFL team plays home games at Parsons Reserve?
  5. Collingwood won the premiership in 1990 but who did they beat in the grand final? 
  6. Who wears number 13 for the Demons? 
  7. Thurlow, Cowan, Murdoch and Parfitt play for which AFL team?
  8. What number does Marc Murphy wear for the Carlton?
  9. What was Fitzroy’s half-time score in Bernie Quinlan’s first game as coach in 1995? 
  10. KYMCA were premiers in the Under 11 grade in 1972. What does KYMCA stand for?

The new rooms at Seddon are great and the toilets and change-rooms are going to be great when they are all finished but where are we going to put everyone when we have a really big meeting of everyone? Is the social room going to be extended further out towards the ground? That would be the best and most logical step unless the council builds a huge box on the back of the rooms.

The umpires were out on the training track and after some running they were walking before another short run. Two young teenage umpires, one male and one female, were chatting about puberty. What a strange subject to be discussing at training thought an older umpire who just happened to overhear their conversation. It would never have happened when I was a teenager he thought. Yes, times have changed. Later he reflected that there was nothing wrong or inappropriate with what had been said. Time to catch up with the modern world, he thought. Damn! I think I’ve missed the bus!

Prior to Round 1 of 2017, Mark Westgarth was giving a lecture on the basic things that were expected of umpires in the new season. He mentioned that umpires should not wear black boots. Unfortunately he forgot to say that field umpires should not wear black boots. One goal umpire was obviously listening very intently because later he asked his coach, “If we can’t wear black boots then what colour should our boots be?”

Answers to the Footy Quiz

Answers to The Football Quiz: 1. 1963 2. Michael Lynch and Craig Hill 3. Phil and Jim 4. Albion 5. Essendon 6. Clayton Oliver 7. Geelong 8 . Three 9. 0-0-0 10. Kingsville Young Men’s Christian Association

Comments & Gossip

Graeme Hodgart has now broken all ties with Scovell News but has been given the chance as a rookie reporter for The Hanmer Herald. If you have any gossip or stories or dirt then please let him know. It’s best if you email him at and he will pass all the printable material onto Stephen Berry and Dane Cowper. Hopefully there will be a second edition sometime in the month of May or June or July or August.

Hope you enjoyed reading and giggling!