The A is for my authority, which many players seem to question thinking they’re somehow going to make me change my mind.
B is for babies, which a lot of cheer squad members cry like after a decision has not gone their way.
C is for the continual criticism I receive from the internet community. Get back in to the real world.
D is for the dunderheads who seem to think we have a conspiracy against their particular team.
E is for the eerie silence which echoes around the ground when I’ve given a free kick against the home team who thoroughly deserved it.
F is the farce into which most games would descend if we weren’t there.
The G is for the gnarled face of someone who’s on $490,000 a year and reckoned he couldn’t have been holding the ball.
H is for dropping the ball, which has to be intentional, and very rarely is. If only people would study the rules more.
I is for innocence, pleaded by many a doe-eyed defender after they’ve just chop the arms of a forward.
J is for ju-jitsu, which I quite intend to display given a dark alley and some of the narky blerts I’ve encountered.
K is for the kicking for goal. A particular art that has never changed.
L is for lip reading, at which you don’t have to be an expert to see how odious some people are.
M is for the mistakes we sometimes make. Surely a bit of controversy is part of the game’s appeal?
The N, well, the N is for the numbskull who during an early season game asks me what else I got for Christmas besides my whistle. “An afternoon with your wife, mate.”
The O is for offside, which doesn’t exist in our sport.
The P is for the Perth booing for any free kick paid against an Eagle or Docker.
The Q is the quiet word which I sometimes need to have with some of the more fiery participants. I usually choose the word ‘Clarkson.’
R is for running backwards which is a difficult skill which people never seem to appreciate.
S is for the suggestion that I should have given a 50 metre penalty to a player who’s just been awarded a free kick by another player when they are the ones risking a 50 metre penalty in my opinion.
T is for the twenty-one man melee which is basically an embarrassing scene of pushing and shoving.
U is for the cricket umpire which I sometimes wish I’d been instead. You never hear someone in a cricket crowd asking if they swallowed their whistle.
The V is for vitriol, vilification, vendetta and volley of verbal abuse that comes my way.
W is for the White Maggots we used to be referred to as. A bit hard to yell these days with the colours of the uniforms.
The X factor of some players which sometimes sways my interpretation of the rules…especially when it comes to Hawthorn players.
The Y is for yield. Something we will never do with a decision despite the pleading by an offending player.
And the Z. Well the Z could be for Zanotti, Zneuchner, Zorko…. even Zantuck. But it is in fact for the zest with which we approach our work. Without this zest for the game, we wouldn’t become umps and without umps, well… zero.
Thanks to N.Blackwell for giving the green light for the adaptation.