Numbers need to be maintained in umpire crisis

Peter SweeneyGeraldton Guardian
Umpires boss Paul Luxton has called for more people to become whistleblowers or else games may suffer.
Camera IconUmpires boss Paul Luxton has called for more people to become whistleblowers or else games may suffer. Credit: Peter Sweeney / The Geraldton Guardian

The “eighth club” in the Great Northern Football League is in need of fresh blood — urgently.

And if the club cannot increase in player strength, it will have a big impact on the other seven clubs.

The umpires, the men and women who are always right regardless of what coloured clothing they sport, call themselves the “eighth club” in the GNFL.

“We need more members, it’s as simple as that,” Paul Luxton, president of the umpires, said.

“If we don’t get them, then games may be umpired by two people rather than three.”

Retired footballers in the 35 to 40-year age group are most sought after.

“They have a good knowledge of and innate feel for the game. They are the ones most likely to become good umpires,” Luxton said.

“We have some good young kids, but we don’t want them umpiring league footy just yet. However, we want them involved before they get too involved with their careers.

“Really, it’s a no-brainer. The more umpires we have, the better the class of umpire will be and the better the football will be. You’re only as good as what you’ve got, irrespective of what it is.

“There were league games last year when we only had two instead of three people umpiring league games. When you are running up to 15km, it becomes pretty taxing late in the game when it is fast and close. That’s when you need three umpires.

“We’ve lost a few umpires from last season and need some more.”

Luxton said the umpires are just like any other club.

“We train twice a week, which is a mixture of skills and fitness. We talk about the rules, debrief the weekend matches and maybe finish with a beer or two. We’re very serious and we’re social also.”

Interested in becoming a whistleblower? Then roll up to training on a Tuesday or Thursday at 5.30pm on the oval behind the Geraldton Tennis Club.

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