Confessions of a Maggot (Part 3)

Following on from and, Tom Martin has issued a challenge re: name dropping. I duly oblige.


1 – In 1995 I umpired all the trials for the SA state primary schools team. I umpired a lot of these with Rodney ‘Rocket’ Maynard; there were no boundary umpires so when a goal was kicked one of us would get the footy and kick it back to the other. If you didn’t have to move we called it 6 points, one step was 5 points, etc. In the last trial I am up. It is the last kick – Yep off the side of Rocket’s boot! The youngsters were bemused and bewildered by my celebrations.


2 – I am involved in selection of the side. As is the same with any side, the first few obvious selections are done very quickly, while the last few selections take ages. The last player picked was Hayden Skipworth. It seemed to follow his career. He is a player I have the utmost respect for, getting every ounce out of his ability.


3 – I am umpiring the first game of above carnival between SA and NSW at Unley oval. Ironically in what was to transpire, there are more than a few Port supporters having a crack at Kane Cornes yelling out to him that he is only in the side due to his last name. He is getting upset. After a point has been kicked, I move over next to him and let him know with some colourful language, that he is well and truly in the side on his ability. He is more than surprised at the way I have spoken to him. It had the desired result. At half time, coming off the ground, Graham is next to the race where the umpires entered and departed. He quietly asks me what I said. I tell him; he smiles and replies ‘perfect’.


4 – Playing for NSW is Adam Schneider. He was a great kid; effervescent and he listened. At one point he should have given it on the inside. I tell him; he smiles, replying ‘yeah I know, but don’t worry about me. I am going all the way.’ He didn’t say it in a big-headed way – more one of quiet determination. Out comes the runner: ‘Did he abuse you?’ I quickly reply ‘No, he is fine.’ As most of the NSW youngsters have grown up on rugby, where the umpire is called Sir, their manners and treatment of me was fantastic (it actually felt a bit weird).
I have always had the opinion that the Swans’ discipline and success has a bit to do with this upbringing. By a quirk of the appointments, I umpired NSW in three games during the week. NSW invited me in to the Richmond oval bar. A lot of parents wanted to buy me a beer. Of course, I felt obliged to let them.


5 – Scott Thompson was in the SA side and had the best by-foot disposal skills I have ever seen in a junior (which hasn’t always followed him as an adult). I was told he broke his thumb in the early stages of his career and never gripped the ball as perfectly again. I have slowed down on video and DVD kicks he has stuffed up and this is spot on.


6 – I am umpiring Gepps Cross v Ferryden Park (incidentally on the day of the famous Ted Whitten lap of the G, Dave Wildy and John Reid on 5AA to this day provide the best and most emotional radio I have ever listened to). I am approached by the coach of Ferryden Park; former Woodville player Ian Dettman. He says ‘Malcolm, can we start the game five minutes late, as we have our syndicate bet on a race? And trust me, we stand to win plenty and Gepps are in on the bet as well.’ Yep, it is organized to start late. It duly salutes. It is the only time I have seen both sides run on to the ground high-fiving each other. The game was played in good spirits and Gepps bar duly won from both sides after the game.


7 – Greg Anderson is playing league footy when he is in year 12 at college. Back then the School always came first, so he decided to leave college and attend Woodville High. It is a wet Tuesday arvo game at St Claire and Greg may have got ahead of himself and was lair-rising a bit. How a guy named Vince Mayo never played league footy had me beat and he was giving Anderson a bit of stick. I call out (mucking around) ‘hit him again, Vince.’ Future Port legend Tim Ginever was captain of Woodville High. He says ‘Good on you Malcolm; exactly what Greg needs.’ This has provided laughter and memories for all concerned since.


8 – Nathan Bassett also played league footy when he was at school. He was playing CHF and was a hell of a lot better than his opponent. He approaches me at half time about being held on to. I reply ‘Yep how about breaking that and start working?’ He stormed off, but thanked me later re what I was trying to teach him.


How’s that TM ? Folks hope you enjoy and yes LOVE you to share and comment.


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  1. How’s that?
    Bloody brilliant, Rulebook!

  2. Amongst the numerous wise advice that you’ve given on the footy field over the years, kudos for allowing the Gepps Cross v Ferryden Park to start late (you should have asked for your cut of the proceeds too!)

  3. Lovely Lisa says

    Full Marks Book!

  4. James Roder says

    And to think the only advice I got from you while cricket umpiring was to stop sooking (and i clearly learnt nothing)

  5. Great story about Kane Cornes. Of course, we’re all dying to know exactly what you said to him and later confirmed with Graham. Come on, you know you want to!

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Smokie,Paul I don’t reckon I paid for a beer that night either thanks,LL,thanks,James I had a giggle re that one.Big Jim I told,Kane to fing ignore that crap and get on with the game pretty sure he hadn’t heard that from a umpire before thanks folks

  7. Mark Duffett says

    Definitely broken the maggot mould, thanks Rulebook

  8. Keep ’em coming Mal!

  9. Bassett, Thompson, Melbourne recruits they couldn’t keep, alas! No wonder it’s been a crap decade. Hopefully finally on the upside. Good stuff Book. Having been to U12 carnivals as a parent, I wish we’d had umpires like you. This year’s draft should have a lot of familiar names in it. I imagine having Studley approaching you at half time may have been a tad intimidating.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Intimidating for Studley, Diggers. He took the 3 for $5 option.

  11. Aha another classic group of stories! Great story with Kane Cornes too!

  12. Loved the Gepps Cross v Ferryden Park story – somehow I find it hard to imagine such civility between those two. Only criticism: none of the sentences were more than 25 words … you’re conforming it seems! However I prefer these anecdotes, Malcolm, to the more mainstream reviews. Keep this style rolling.

  13. Touche Swish!

  14. More name dropping than Pud, but a great read.

  15. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Mark and Rookie.( good luck rook on your adventure) Diggers no I new,Graham a bit at that stage and later in the year after the infamous banners it may have been a different story and thank you.Swish well played and yes I have sold,Graham raffle tickets..Thanks Campbell glad you enjoyed it.Model I am sure the good will in that game was far from the norm some prefer this method re writing some don’t.
    Thanks folks !

  16. Australian Football salutes you ‘Book – I can see an OAM one day!

  17. Sensational Rulebook. Loving these memories. Did you ever umpire Grenville? Or D jarman coming back to ammos?

    Anyone ever cracked you up consistently for an entire match?

  18. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Damian the cheques in the mail.JTH no I didn’t umpire either but you have reminded me of stories about,Grenville and both,Jarman’s playing against,Uni i reckon I can get a 4th part !

  19. Ambrose Ronson says

    Fantastic read, Malcolm. Among the humour, great points raised re Sydney and Thompson.

    Awesome storys, mate.

  20. I like your style Rulebook. A couple of those stories remind me of the old, old school teacher that used to coach my primary school team and also umpire the matches. Would berate his players in between blowing the whistle!

  21. nice work Rulebook – cool stories!

  22. Great read Malcolm. Like Who magazine or E! News but for footy!

    I understand that while Greg Anderson’s mullet was passing all its Year 12 subjects and offering excellent student leadership Greg himself was not doing so well and was asked to leave St Mick’s. That’s why he enrolled at Woodville High.

    Interesting thoughts on the links between rugby’s discipline and the Swans’ success.

    Look forward to part four.

  23. Dave Brown says

    Most entertaining – I will now stop criticising Thommo’s kicking, even if it did cost us at least one final. A bit like, but to nowhere near the same extent, John Butcher’s kicking technique being ruined by hip surgery as a teenager…

  24. I like your engaged “coaching” style of umpiring Rulebook. At least at junior levels.
    At Yorketown in the early 70’s we had a local umpire called Paddy Thompson for the Colts. He was a barrel chested, bandy legged Irishman who gave us kids the impression that he favoured a fight to a feed.
    Remember when teams used to line up on the ground before a game and have their sprigs checked for protruding nails and their hands checked for rings (or knuckle dusters)?
    Paddy would do that and then do his Marshall Dillon/One-Man Tribunal speech where he told all us shivering 16yo’s “none of that rough stuff – I never report anyone – I’ll deck you myself”.
    I remember Phil Carman head butting a boundary umpire in the VFL. Has there ever been a case of an umpire assaulting a player? Maybe that can be Vol 4 Rulebook?
    I’m with Tom Martin though. I don’t doubt all your stories are true. Its just that they happened with you and Billy Bloggs or Jimmy Smith. Inserting “Kane Cornes” or “Scott Thompson” just makes them more interesting.
    As Detective Joe Friday on Dragnet used to say “only the names are changed to protect the innocent”.

  25. Luke Reynolds says

    Brilliant Malcolm. Especially love the point scoring with Rod Maynard.
    As usual, looking forward toT.Martin’s response.

  26. Crisp

  27. bernard whimpress says

    My favourite is the Ferryden-GeppsX story and seems like a wise decision by Greg Anderson.

  28. Nice work Malcolm but you’ve shot Bambi – never say a bad word about Rocket Maynard!! He is one of those rare types – both a very good man as well as being a good bloke

  29. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Ambose,Jeff nothing wrong with a bit of tough love occasionally.thanks Tim,Mickey with a member of the knackery family being,Gregs brother in law I am waiting to see whether there will be reply
    glad you enjoyed it.Dave yes re that kick grrrr,and yes certainly not any where near as major as Butch.PB I temember the days of being inspected as a player and being the inspector as the maggot.PB they all happened with the individuals involved as I remembered each incident a quick note was made besides surely part of the entertainment is re the celebrities involved and while I am sure a umpire would have belted a player over time haven’t witnessed that one ( did witness a soccer brawl where the person standing next to me filmed it and that helped the boys in blue ) Luke it is a fond memory re rocket.
    Thanks Wes,Bernard it was a fun day,Cornsey as you no,Rocket is a fantastic bloke being the ultimate team man and he even obeyed you when the players weren’t meant to mingle in the shed with the public and friends trust me not all the players did even tho,Rocket said he would much rather have a beer with us like old times at the parade( Graham love to get your memories of that day at Unley ) thank you !

  30. Wonderful stuff Rulebook, and I particularly appreciated the Swans comment and the exchange with the Schneiderman. I suspect they broke the mould after you.

  31. Earl O'Neill says

    Some great insights there, thanx Rulebook.

  32. Coached Bassett at Norwood in the u13’s he was a talent back then had a funny kicking style which we tried to correct but in the end his career proved it didn’t hinder him at all.
    Good story Rukebokk

  33. Gordon Agars says

    Hey PB, you are a mind reader. My Round 16 1986 report will reveal all.

  34. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Don and Earl appreciated.Coke I had forgotten,Bass re kicking style he worked his way out of that to a large extent and I always thought,Scott had more natural ability but Nathan was a fraction quicker.
    Geez Gordon I thought I might have escaped to much more sledging wonder if your article will be sent around as much that week I am consoled by the words of the great man,Chocka who always said that getting the grap paid out of you at Ad Uni FC is a sign of acceptance and respect ( well at least that’s what I remind myself that,Chocka said) thank you

  35. Thanks for another interesting read Book! Found the part about the swans interesting too! I think I could take a leaf out of that book of discipline and respect

  36. I was a little surprised to learn you had run as far as a boundary.

  37. Your memory of names, dates and places never ceases to amaze me Rulebook. I look forward to the many more stories to come.
    I’m particularly interested to hear how you can continue to umpire with a bung knee…..

  38. any stories from umpiring THE legend #130?

  39. Very good read Mal!

  40. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Ben re the swans it Iis a thought I have always had and it would be interesting to no from people who are involved more.Lamby years ago ruining was not a problem now days I would need a motor bike.
    TM yes I admit I do have a good memory umpiring wise now with my knees I am struggling big time and not sure how many games I have got left thank you
    ( knackers,TM above was not,Tom Martin)

  41. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Tofe I admit I am old but not that bloody old to have umpired the legend I played a game with,Bob once and he certainly like yourself has a red hot go but not quite as skilled as your good self.Thanks Sam
    I appreciate all the response to the article

  42. Jill Tathra says

    What comes out to me in all of this is the fun had by all. Yes they were out there to win, or umpire in your case Malcolm, but the biggest and best is the fun.

    This is the only way to start kids of in team games I feel. I also feel we should be allowed to score and have winners as sadly life isn`t always about winning, which is the way some want kids brought up now.

    Another brilliant read mate

  43. Peter Coleman says

    Great stories Rulebook, totally believable except for the part where you allege the NSW parents wanted to buy you a beer. An affliction never suffered by your former Uni team mates!

  44. Rulebook – a feel for the game shines through here. Something the AFL umpires lack.

    I’ve been watching a lot of the local women’s footy of late. The umpires have generally been OK, but some are dynamite on dropping the ball and some don’t seem to know what it is. But my question is this, do umpires grant some benefit of the doubt at the lower grades, or do they umpire harder, to teach the players the rules and skills required?

  45. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Jill spot on the key in junior sport especially is to have fun and a decent umpire is part of that,IMO and this garbage of supposedly not keeping score and no winners or losers rubbish the kids always no who has won or lost.Harsh but fair,PC mind you l well and truly learnt the tricks from,BD,Plug and Danny especially re getting a free beer.Dips a decent umpire adjusts to the grade I wouldn’t mind a dollar for every time I have used the line cmon where not,Barry Robran out her play on thank you

  46. At The Races says

    Go Kyle! – Kyle Chalmers is now Port Lincoln’s new #1 export and Olympic Gold Medallist.

    Book – A new challenge is issued re: name dropping:
    Surely you have a timely story about (Kyle’s dad) Brett Chalmers and how you (subtly) influenced his AFL career?

    Do it for PB.

  47. Loved point number 6 lol. Enjoyable reading as usual

  48. Hi Malcolm
    Great Yarns. I was a the Giants lunch a week back and Wayne Campbell was speaking about his time as the AFL Umpires boss. He was speaking about Razor Ray and said that nobody remembers the names of any umpires other then Chelsea and Razer, for very different reason obviously. He said that the AFL discouraged player discussions where possible but you just can’t shut Razor up. As much as he annoys me I did have chuckles during one game when a player asked Ray to look at the replay to which he calming stated that there was no need to do so as he had seen it the first time.

  49. Martin Rumsby says

    Some very interesting anecdotes Malcolm. One of the benefits of umpiring is the association that you have with future stars.

  50. Hi Malcolm. Great read. The stories you reflect upon highlight possibly my biggest gripe in grassroots football currently. The charismatic, genuine umpires I saw back in the 80’s and 90’s who legitimately cared about forming relationships with players and parents alike are long gone, possibly never to be seen again. Excuse my overly sentimental language, but i was surrounded by people growing up holding similar philosophies to yourself on the importance of forming relationships with people instead of just ruling with an iron fist as such. I worry about my 7 year old son, coming through the ranks, I’m scared shitless he’ll become disenchanted with the game due to the ridiculous interpretations regarding what should be considered clear cut rules, and the nonsensical rationale provided to players to explain such decisions.

  51. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks At The Races nup can’t claim that one have met,Brett but don’t really no him so how bout this at least,Olaf Bode ex redleg and father of Jace and fellow ex Norwood High student is head of sport at
    Immanuel College,Kyles school and I have helped run coaching clinics at carry on Immanel is about the best I can do.Thanks Sally appreciated.Tony I will give,Wayne Campbell his due in that a rucking free kick was paid in a friday night game re blocking in which he disagreed with it evoked 4 of us maggots furiously in response we all thought it was a blatant free kick I emailed,Wayne the next day he replied I will say the same as 99 per cent of players and in general afl umpires ( I was surprised the officiating umpire got it correct) he has no idea re ruck infringements.Razor Ray in my opinion is disappointing to say the least while I am all for umpires displaying there personality IMO he goes to far.
    Martin it is a aspect of the game I have always enjoyed and chatted to numerous recruting officials and in general been listened to I could have gone interstate years ago for a part time role it wasn’t enough at the time I have always wondered where I would end up if I had taken the job ( Lachy Palmer and Sam Bresslauer are two hard luck stories you no well ) thank you

  52. Great article love the late start due to a team Punt. Hope they gave you a sling

  53. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Y Bacha I totally agree I coach and teach more re junior games than umpire eg getting the youngster to get back off his mark and gain some room before kicking the ball,getting them to go back to position and not swarm around the ball like bees re sugar( I use the line cmon kids your worse than females chasing me on a sat night always gets a giggle) and trying to make sure every child gets a kick.Thanks Raj as I have said above didn’t have to buy a beer in the bar afterwards that night.

  54. A good read mate!

  55. Great insight book. Interesting to hear that about ando, I guess it would be not to get ahead of yourself when you’re dominating league footy at 16 years old.

  56. Good stuff mate
    Put it in a book
    Very entertaining reading.

  57. Nice story about Kane Cornes Rulebook

  58. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Arson Garson,thanks,Ben and very true thanks,River boy thanks Plug yes have had a laugh with both,Kane and Graham about that day

  59. Oscar Leonard says

    Excellent stuff Book!

  60. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Oscars !

  61. Harry Faulkner says

    Hard to believe you were accepting beers after a game Malcolm!! Hope it was after the carnival, can’t have umpires being bribed!! lol

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