Umpiring as a (sort of ) therapy.


Last Saturday on University Oval, I took to the field and was, for the first time in almost 13 years, was part of a match involving the Adelaide University Football Club.  As an umpire.

As an aside, there are three things that the uninitiated must know about the Adelaide Uni Football Club.

  • ·      The club legend is a man called Bob Neil


  • ·      They are known as the Blacks


  • ·      Players have numbers on their Guernsey’s in 3 digits due to the large number of players registered. For example in the years I played for the Blacks I played with 148 and 222 on my back.


But this isn’t a brief abridged history of Australia’s biggest amateur football club (well they were the biggest back in the 90s, not sure now).

I just wanted to advise that if you ever have had a bad day or night blaming the umpires for your teams bad fortune then please please please give umpiring a go. Because on Saturday that’s what I did and boy was it worth it.

If you are a serial umpire abuser then take to the field.  On Saturday I was one of 2 field umpires in the Division C4 clash between the Blacks and the Unley Jets.  I had umpired before – in a BAFL match in London in 1999.  And I reckon I know the rules pretty well, but nothing could prepare me for the abuse, the realization that an instant decision has to be made about 100 times/quarter and that the whistle makes your lips and throat stupidly dry.  Even giving votes for the medal afterwards is a headache! IT’S A BLOODY TOUGH JOB!

Ten days ago I spent two hours scaring my in laws and blaming the Cats 8 point loss to the Eagles on the white (insert  expletive here) also known as umpires. Now I understood in the 24 hours or so after that match that whilst the umpiring was a little biased towards the Weagles it wasn’t the reason why the Cats lost, and in Sunday’s Cats game at the Gabba, in my opinion the cats got the rub of the green…..the old “what comes around”theory does hold true I suppose.

But as I watched the best part of  3 games on Sunday I found myself admiring the pro’s, such as Ray Chamberlain. And even though I was and still am a little sore after my 2 hours running around like a maggot on uni oval, I am so grateful that I gave it a go (it was a favour for a past team mate), so grateful that I think I might even put my hand up again….but perhaps I’ll wait until the cats/tigers game this weekend…..

Once again folks, give it a go, if only once –it’ll change you forever.



PS—the Jets won by 15 points, and I gave away no 25/50 metre penalties.

About Dan Crane

Hi , I'm Dan. I'm a Geelong, Liverpool, Sturt and Celtic FC fan with soft spots for Richmond, Chester and Leicester FC's as well. I'm an Geography, History & English teacher who adores sport but whatever you do, don't ever start me on music....


  1. Alovesupreme says

    I’m disappointed that your excellent recounting of your experience hasn’t drawn replies. As I’m known as a member of the white mongrel fraternity – albeit semi-retired – my response will probably (properly?) be dismissed as special pleading.
    Your reference to the pressure of decision-making every few seconds is spot on. As a very experienced umpire who was an adviser in my comp pointed out to us, the “correct” decision is instinctive, the whistle is up to your lips, or the call of play on rings out before you have time for even a moment’s reflection. If you haven’t made the decision in that momen, it’s too late, and in any case, you’re focussed on the next act of play.
    One of theunanticipated benefits of umpiring is that enhances one’s appreciation of being a spectator at other games. For example, it is easy to appreciate why an apparently obvious free, viewed from the sidelines can’t be called by an umpire who is inside the pack, and unsighted. You can’t call what you think happened.
    Positioning was always my greatest challenge, as that’s the key to achieving the optimal number of correct decisions; but inevitably, you can be in perfect position then a moment later, you’re unsighted for a key contest.
    Mark you, I hesitate to commend Razor Ray as a paragon of the fraternity!

  2. Dan Crane says

    ALS – thank you for your kind words – especially coming from an experience umpy such as yourself…..going to put my hand up for the less glamourous uni park 10 clash against elizabeth in a few weeks so it must have worked and its not just cause of the $50 as well otherwise i’d do it tomorrow, although it does help :)

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Dan I have always had the opinion that any player who gets suspended should be made to umpire . The other thing about being a club umpire is you generally get crap from the other club that your a cheat blah blah and then when you go back to the pub you get it from the Uni guys geez Rulebook you gave them a run today ahh the wonderful world of umpiring . Have you ump any more games ? May Bob be with you !

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