AFL Round 5 – Fremantle v Richmond: If you don’t mind umpire



6.45pm (Perth time), Friday 26 April
Patersons Stadium




If you don’t mind umpire


The biggest question coming into this game, apart from when Hayden Ballantyne would have his gob smacked by a frustrated opponent, was how to pronounce the name of Richmond debutante Nick Vlastuin.


By the end of the match there were so many questions my head was ready to explode.

Oh, and every Richmond fan in Australia wanted to deck the AFL’s umpiring department.

Leading into the game most commentators were calling Vlastuin “vlast-toon”, but then again they also got the late and great Merv Neagle’s name wrong for his entire career, calling him “nagle” instead of “neegle”. They also called Nick Riewoldt “reewolt” instead of “reevolt” for about five years until someone actually checked.


As we contemplated what to call our newest player, as luck would have it my niece sent a facebook message saying she went to school with Vlastuin at St Helena Secondary College. Woo hoo. She’d know.


At first she sounded it out “vlas-too-in”, but then had second thoughts and changed it to “vlos-to-in” so we were almost back to where we started. I think we’ll just call him Nick.


After a stirring post-Anzac Day rendition of the Last Post, Richmond kicked the first three before Chris Mayne snapped one to put the Dockers on the board. It wasn’t a bad start, not that I would have known.


Watching footy at home is dangerous these days. I kept checking twitter and facebook and missing half the play.


But I didn’t miss the most extraordinary boundary call of all time, when Freo was not pinged despite the ball being further out than Wayne Harmes in the 1979 Grand Final. Carlton man Tony De Bolfo teased me on twitter saying it was in, before adding, “when I said in, I meant in the foyer of the Hilton”.


The Sydney Hilton, I added.


Little did I know the umpiring jokes would not be quite so funny by the end of the game.


Meanwhile back on the field, Nick had a few touches including a good, strong tackle. Michael Walters kicked another one for Freo, then Chris Knights goaled from almost 50 after a free kick. At quarter time it was Richmond by 20.


During the second quarter I was justified in being distracted by twitter as Richmond fiddle faddled from one end of the ground to the other and Freo chipped away at our lead.


The Dockers kicked the first four through Mayne, Crowley, Walters and Hill, taking the lead half way through the quarter.  Knights then stole the lead back for Richmond, only for Ballantyne to snatch it back, followed by Vickery for the Tigers and Ballantyne again for the Dockers. Could someone just snot him now?


The Dockers clung to a two point lead at half time.


Twitter was going mad as Richmond fans ripped into the umpires, who for some strange reason seemed to be favouring the home team (never seen that happen in Perth before) and the weirdest camera angles we’ve seen for a long time. “I reckon the camera man is drunk,” my cousin tweets.


The third quarter could have been ugly but luckily it was relatively contained. The Dockers were playing better footy while the Tigers continued to panic, but the damage was minimal.


Nick Suban goaled for the Dockers from 50 to put them nine points up, but Knights answered to cut it to three. Ballantyne then got another and a rushed point from Walter’s post-siren shot had Fremantle up by nine points at the final change.


I had restrained myself so far as I know we shouldn’t bag the umpires, but when Trent Cotchin had a free paid against him after being collected while having eyes only for the ball, I’d had enough.  Even Greg Baum, Collingwood-mad Age footy writer, tweeted that we were getting the rough end of the stick.


But theTigers were not playing well enough either. Mayne put the Dockers 14 points in front, the biggest lead of the game, but then Martin gave us some hope with a spectacular shot from the boundary.


After five more minutes of the most frustrating footy I’ve seen for a long time, Cotch passed it to Vickery who dobbed it. No free kicks needed. Two points down with six minutes left.


Then the fun really started – NOT. White kicked truly from an angle only to see the goal umpire call play on after it hit him (the umpire) on the way through. Stephen Hill rushed it through for a point. What the? We were fuming.


Then, as if to say, “take this one off me you bastards,” White goaled again on the run. Richmond was up by five points. Could we do it?


Sadly, the fairytale never lasts for us Tiger fans. After hanging on in a mad scramble, bloody Ballantyne crumbed and goaled with 1.24 minutes left after being left too loose.




Freo by a point.


Richmond is cursed.


This time it wasn’t the scraggy little Ballantyne Richmond fans wanted to deck but the goal umpire who disallowed White’s goal and the stupid rules and interpretations that cost us at every turn. Why did they not review that kick when they’ve looked at far less controversial kicks? It just defied logic.


Then again, following Richmond defies logic.


Rubbing salt into the wound, a Fox Footy post-game replay showed that not only should the White decision have been reviewed, Stephen Hill could have been pinged for deliberate as Tyrone Vickery was not pressuring him when he rushed through the point.


While not blaming the loss on it, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick didn’t mince words in his press conference. “I know it went through for a goal,” he said. “It crossed the line. We should have called a replay you would have thought? There is a system in place. Use it. Or don’t bother.”


I really don’t want to bother with footy anymore. I’m emotionally spent. Just had it.


Yeah we made mistakes and Jack Riewoldt returned to his sooky ways which cost us, blah blah blah. But ridiculous rules and confusing umpiring decisions are ruining our game.


(Post script: I do not blame individual umpires, who do a great job and are an important part of footy, for the controversy surrounding this game. The AFL has way too many professional paper-pushers trying to justify their fat pay cheques by changing rules that don’t need to be changed and introducing review systems they then don’t use when it could affect a game’s outcome. This has created mass confusion and no-one, including the poor umpires, seems to know what the hell is going on.)



FREMANTLE        2.0    7.5   10.8    12.9   (81)
RICHMOND          5.2    7.3    9.5      12.8   (80)

Ballantyne 4, Mayne 3, Walters 2, Crowley, Hill, Suban
Richmond: Knights 3, Vickery 3, McGuane 2, Riewoldt, Grigg, Martin, White

Barlow, McPharlin, Ballantyne, Griffin, Pearce, Fyfe
Richmond: Knights, Martin, Edwards, Ellis, Cotchin, Vickery, White
UMPIRES:  Donlon, Dalgleish, Chamberlain   CROWD: 36,365

OUR VOTES Barlow (Freo) 3, Ballantyne (Freo) 2, Knights (Rich), 1.







  1. really disappointed with the loss and more so the fact that our coaches and players should have blocked the defensive end with a minute or so to go, that was just plain stupid and that is what layers are taught in unders 10’s as for umpires, everyone has their dumb story about them….agree about cotch and the sliding rule- he was not actually sliding on one case, just a second effort whilst he was on the ground, the rules have become a joke where a hard at it footballer, scrupulously fair, cannot go for the ball whilst on the ground in a given contest, now that is really dumb

  2. cheryl critchley says

    Agree Haje but footy is all about passion and we should also be able to vent about injustice :-). The game is being spoiled by ridiculous rule changes and utter confusion when it comes to interpreting them. I’ve followed footy all my life but have no idea what is going on half the time now and I suspect neither do the poor umps, who seem to get told to interpret things differently every week. Richmond still has a way to go and made some basic errors last night but we definitely got the short end of the stick.

  3. I only saw a grab on Fox Sport News but what was the problem?…if it hits the umpire the ball remains live. Everyone in footy knows that. The ump seemed in a good position. Straddling the line to see if it is touched etc. The whole ball has to cross the line to be a goal – the Richmond bloke should have kicked it through.

  4. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi Crio. Damian Hardwick and some others were convinced that the ball had gone over the line. I’m not sure. And then Hill from Freo casually walked over the line which should have been a free kick for a deliberate rushed point. He wasn’t under any pressure cos Tyrone Vickery was a fair way off. The whole thing was just a farce. I’d also question how many people know that the ball is still live if it hits an umpire. No-one I’ve spoken to today knew that and these are footy fans in their 40s.

  5. Cheryl Critchley says

    Woops meant to say Damien with an e.

  6. Pamela Sherpa says

    What on earth are the umpires doing standing on the line and in the way? A ridiculous place to be. They should get back behind the line where they are able to move either left or right and surely they can judge whether a ball crosses the line from behind the line . Sooner or later one of them is going to get crunched into a goal post.

  7. Hayden Ballantyne is lovely isn’t he? Over dinner tonight we we talking about which of his four (4) goals was the best. It would be good to have an outsider’s view. What do Richmond fans think?

  8. WE at Catter Land best not say too much about goal umpiring.
    Did J. Selwood actually get one stop — maybe the sole of the boot — to his shot which the goalie said was a six pointer.

    Looked a bit inconclusive but, hey, we beat the Dogges by a touch more than a kick so perhaps it’s purely academic.

    Remember Les when Scarlett received complimentary texts and tweets from fellow backmen after belting Hayden early last season ??

  9. Michael Viljoen says

    You’re right. We can’t blame the umpires when the rules themselves don’t make sense. But Kevin Bartlett is a Richmond man, so there is some justice here.

    My favourite nonsense rule has always been the ‘rushed behind’ rule. This rule currently states that you are not allowed to rush a behind unless you really need to. How is any clear thinking person (defender or umpire) supposed to work with that?

  10. Michael Viljoen says

    I want to add something to what I’ve already said.

    In taking the ball through for a rushed behind, Stephen Hill did what players have been doing for most of the last hundred years. It was the sensible thing to do – give up a point when you’re leading by two. It was tactically appropriate, and would have been commended by players, fans, and coaches alike for most of the last hundred years.

    It’s only under this current regime of rule changes that leaves everyone (umpires included) scratching their heads about what the rule even is or is meant to be. 

    Get rid of the rule, or go back and write it properly.

  11. Stainless says

    The joke is that even had a review been called it would have been deemed inconclusive because no camera angle would prove that it had definitely gone through. If the AFL is not prepared to spend the money on the necessary technology, they may as well scrap the review system completely.

    Don’t give up on us now Cheryl. It’s tough to lose in those circumstances but I’ll take that level of performance ahead of the soft 10 goal losses of yesteryear any time.

  12. cheryl critchley says

    I’ll never give up on us Stainless – I couldn’t. I’ll be there next week and eery other game in Melbourne. We’re even going to our game in Sydney this year. I’m just so frustrated at the way the game is being governed at the moment, it seems we are not only tackling our own inadequacies ie panicking under pressure, skil errors, but ridicuulous rule tinkering that just confises everyone and can affect. Games. Even Ross Lyon thought. White’s kick was a goal.

  13. Cheryl – horrible luck for the fighting Tigers. The current commentary that we need more and more and more umpires to fix issues with umpiring, is like saying that the Yanks need more guns on the street to fix the guns problem.

    My solution:

    1 – get the bloody numbers off their backs
    2 – don’t name them before the game. Who cares which umpires are out there.
    3 – never, ever (forchrissakes I mean this) never, ever mike them up.
    4 – put them in white clothes. We don’t need flouro green umpires; it just makes them feel important.
    5 – get rid of any review system. All it does is encourage the umpires to abdicate their responsibilities.

  14. Agreed, JH. If it ain’t broke and all that…ours isn’t a game of exactitude as far as rules are concerned – it’s one of few where motivation and second guessing players’ psychology comes into the umpiring decisions, I suspect! Sometimes I get to the point where I wish the Rules Committee would leave well alone, and stop trying to quantify the minutiae of physical movement and contact within an Aussie Rules game. A push in the back is a push in the back ’cause…ah, it just…is! (That said, Bellchambers on Wednesday took full advantage of that particular rule. In general, I imagine that sort of behaviour gets weeded out by humiliation – but then, I’m a Black and White optimist)

    RE: those paper-pushers, I’d hate to get to the point where we have a game that evokes the old “a camel is a horse designed by committee” maxim…

  15. You take the goal and not the point, you give up the subsequent goal that resulted from the kick in, we kick the Ballantyne goal, we win by two instead of one.

    I’m going to write to the AFL about the lost % that Freo deserve.

  16. the ball didnt hit the ump? i was right behind it unless you mean a different part, it was just bad luck it hit the post and bounced off funny.

  17. Cheryl Critchley says

    Emily the ball definitely hit the umpire – you can clearly see it in the replay. The question is whether it was over the line and whether it was going to go through for a goal. Too many what ifs :-)

  18. Ripsnorter says


    I am a Collingwood supporter but was at the game on Friday with a Richmond mate and was about 15 metres from the disputed goal. I think that these are the facts of the disputed goal and the result.

    The right decision was made, the ball hit the umpire and never went over the line and was a rushed behind by Hill ( you could argue he wasn’t under pressure but they have reallly stopped paying this unless you are the only player in the 50 on your own and rush the behind )

    The goal umpire was in the best position to see the line and not sure he should have straddled the line as he did but let the Giesh sort that out.

    If he hadn’t been there the ball hits the post and a point in scored.

    The worst thing that could have happened was the ball went through for a goal off the umpire as Richmond would have been given a goal that should have been a point.

    Richmond got their goal from White soon after so no big harm done, the way Richmond set up at the clearance from the boundary throw that preceded the one from which Ballantyne scored was the problem. That first clearance should have been a rushed point to Freo and Ballantyne never gets his goal. Too many dockers got to the ball at both of those clearances too easily and that is what ultimately cost the Tigers the game – great match though and Tigers playing some good football so all is not lost.

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