While finals time brings the best footballers out to play, it can sometimes bring out the worst in supporters.
Let’s be honest, in the heat of the moment we can get carried away in a passionate display. But I have no time for fans who abuse the umpire.
It’s important to remember that without umpires there is no game.
They selflessly give up their time to run around the ground come rain, hail or shine to make sure everyone enjoys a clean contest.
They are not perfect, but who is? They will not always get every decision right, but who does?
A number of country football grand finals in 2015 left a bad taste in the mouth, with fans getting physical with each other and the men in orange.
So far, the 2016 country finals in WA have gone off without a hitch and it’s up to all of us to make sure that Sunday’s South West grand final goes just as smoothly.
It’s hard standing out in the driving rain for the good of the sport we all love, so as a community, let’s take a moment to be a little kinder.
The league, and South Bunbury Football Club in particular, have become keen ambassadors of the Choose Respect message.
The vow to treat others with care and consideration is an important one and has gone a long way to equipping players with tools to deal with confrontation.
But whether a player, coach, umpire or fan, we can and must all do better to achieve harmony on and off the field.
With this in mind, here is a pledge we can all make before this weekend’s game.
As an umpire, I promise to support you and honour the decision you make – even if you are awarding a 50 metre penalty against my favourite player.
I agree to stand by you for better or worse – even thought I thought the ball touched the post on the way through.
I vow to respect you for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health – even if you insist on continuing to wear fluorescent uniforms.
You have my promise that I will be faithful to you – so long as you continue to support the Australian game.
This weekend’s game promises to be one for the ages and I hope that everyone leaves the ground at the end of the day having witnessed the next chapter of South West football history.