Umpire numbers at all-time low as GNFL and clubs step in to fill gaps

Jake Santa MariaMidwest Times
Only one league match this weekend was officiated by umpires.
Camera IconOnly one league match this weekend was officiated by umpires. Credit: Facebook

The latest round of the GNFL had only one game fully supplied with umpires as numbers drop to an all-time low following a string of verbal abuse and off-field issues.

Umpiring numbers are down across WA and the rest of Australia with a shortage of umpires numbered in the thousands across various metro and country leagues.

For most of this season, club volunteers have had to fill in gaps across colts, reserves and women’s games but league games for the most part have had umpires provided.

However, the beginning of the year was marred with incidents of verbal abuse, the most severe coming at Northampton’s clash at Mullewa which saw umpires threaten to boycott all Saints’ matches.

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At the weekend, Chapman Valley’s clash against Northampton was the only match in which umpires were able to be supplied, with the GNFL stating a lot of umpires were away as they and clubs searched for volunteers.

Several posts on Facebook believed umpires were fed up with how they had been treated with one post from a former umpire stating, “who wants to get abused or blamed for a team losing”.

Another called for support and respect for umpires “no umpires, no game, no competition,” they said.

In the round before the bye, an umpire said he had lost count of the times he was hurled abuse and derogatory remarks throughout the course of the match.

A post at the conclusion of the round, the GNFL thanked the umpires that officiated the Chapman Valley game as well as all club volunteers, but seemed to take a thinly veiled swipe at absentees.

“Thank you to all boundary and goal umpires that turn up every week and umpire for the love of footy! If umpires just umpired because they love the game then we wouldn’t have any shortages,” the post read.

The post was up for several hours before it was taken down as GNFL life member and former vice-president Heather Brett stating she was disgusted by the post.

“Saddened to think what should have been a thank-you post, actually is a swipe at the hardworking umpires in our region,” she said.

“I have heard too many public comments lately having a go at them, no wonder they don’t want to commit.”

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