The umpires selected to oversee the biggest games on the 2016 South West Football League calendar were unveiled at a celebratory dinner in Bunbury on Friday night.
South West Football League Umpires Association president Jason Crowe joked the Bunbury Trotting Club location and time of the dinner was kept low key before the night so players and fans couldn’t find all the men and women in orange all gathered together as an easy target.
The night featured a number of awards for excellence in umpiring during the season.
The President’s Award was presented to Deb Peachey, one of 32 first year umpires who joined the ranks in 2016. Her son Zac Peachey won the award in 2015.
The Pulford Rising Star award recognises a younger umpire who shows potential to go much further and was won by Lauryn Heasman who has spent an excellent season on the boundary line.
Kevin Hutchins was presented the coaches award while association secretary Laurie Sutherland presented President Jason Crowe with the club person of the year award, after Crowe become the first SWFL umpire to pass 700 games this year.
With good grace, he also accepted the 32nd annual wood duck of the year award which recognises an umpire who has made a public gaffe. Crowe sent an email in January to notify the league’s umpires of a death within their fraternity only to find out five minutes later he had a case of mistaken identity.
Chris Edwards received the nod as boundary umpire of the year while Katrina Edwards was named goal umpire of the year and Aaron Andrews capped off a stellar 2016 as field umpire of the year.
Andrews was named as the best umpire at the Landmark Country Football Carnival in July and was selected to officiate the state country match between WA and South Australia at Adelaide Oval in August.
Three members of the association were presented with life membership.
The first, Ian Beard, umpired 260 games, two league grand finals, six reserves grand finals, two colts grand finals and three landmark grand finals.
Life membership was also presented to Harold Membrey who has umpired 377 games and counting including 30 finals and John Buswell who oversaw 201 games between 1970 and 1994.
League stalwart Neville Millar then had his life membership upgraded, becoming the fourth member of the umpires’ Hall of Fame.
Millar’s career included 27 games as a boundary umpire, 327 games as a goal umpire and 100 games as a field umpire including six grand finals for a total of 454 games.
To finish the night, a select few umpires were granted the chance to take to the field on grand final day.
During the year a panel of judges monitor the local umpires and make note of those who frequently get challenging decisions correct and honour the spirit of the game.
With more than 90 umpires working together this season, it was tough to split the field. The following umpires were given the nod.
Field: Michael Hearne (140 games, second colts grand finals)
Kevin Hutchins (85 games, nine finals, first colts grand final)
Kyle Pratt (39 games, four finals, first colts grand final)
Boundary: Lauryn Heasman (23 games, four finals, first colts grand final)
Emma Hutchins (32 games, four finals, first colts grand final)
Zowie Loo (23 games, four finals, first colts grand final).
Goal: Michael Hastie (581 games, 52 finals, second colts grand final)
Glenn Swann (280 games, 24 finals, second colts grand final).
Field: Brenton Bartlett (157 games, 19 finals, third reserves grand final)
Matthew Stewart (107 games, 14 finals, first reserves grand final)
Damien O’Donoghue (93 games, 12 finals, first reserves grand final)
Boundary: Zac Baker (26 games, four finals, first reserves grand final)
Harold Membrey (378 games, 31 finals, second reserves grand final)
Zac Trigwell (49 games, 12 finals, first reserves grand final)
Goal: Glenn Morrow (209 games, 11 finals, third reserves grand final)
Simon Thomas (83 games, five finals, first reserves grand final)
Field: Aaron Andrews (206 games, 22 finals, second league grand final)
Adam Hauswirth (65 games, 12 finals, second league grand final)
Zak Schurko (25 games, four finals, first league grand final)
Boundary: Jarrad Andrews (186 games, 28 finals, sixth consecutive league grand final)
Chris Edwards (40 games, five finals, first league grand final)
Brian Feutrill (97 games, fourth consecutive league grand final)
Jack Gibellini (21 games, four finals, first league grand final)
Goal: Jason Crowe (711 games, 83 finals, 14 league grand finals) – breaking the previous record of 13.
Katrina Edwards (307 games, 34 finals, first league grand final) – also the first female goal umpire to do a league grand final.
Emergency: Matt Stewart
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