Geraldton umpires want crowd abuse to be shown a red card

Reuben CarderMidwest Times
Umpires want to give abuse a red card.
Camera IconUmpires want to give abuse a red card. Credit: kinemero/Getty Images/iStockphoto, kinemero

Amid noise and recriminations around an abandoned game of footy last weekend, there is a clear message — stop abusing umpires.

The GNFL Umpires Association has another message too — if you think you can do a better job of officiating the game, get on board instead of standing by and yelling about it.

Abuse of officials, mostly by the crowd, is such an issue, the top umpire said he would not take his own family to games where he would be officiating, a situation that makes it difficult to recruit.

Association president Steve Meeny agreed the blow-up which spelt an early halt to the women’s match between Chapman Valley and Mullewa at Mullewa Oval was a warning flag, and said resources were so thin the association had to keep a roster of people from clubs who could take charge if there were no trained umpires around — a situation that would not get better unless treatment of officials did.

“I’m not highlighting any one team or club in particular,” he said.

“But I don’t take my family along when I umpire because I know it’s not an environment I want to put them in.

“They don’t want to hear their dad, or their partner, be called everything under the sun. ”

Meeny said it was understandable when crowds showed passion or questioned a call, but there was a line not to cross.

“Some of it’s friendly, it’s not personal,” he said.

“It’s when it turns to that real personal abuse ... (getting) called a cheat and a lot of worse things than that. Prick, c…, everything under the sun. It’s something most of us switch off to and don’t take any notice off the ground. On the ground, it’s a different story.”

Meeny said the association was down several umpires last weekend. Two field umpires usually take charge of women’s games.

Umpire Paul Luxton, who took sole charge of Sunday’s game at Mullewa, said the incident there was a “once in a blue moon” one and he was not sure extra officials would have helped.

But senior representatives of both clubs, who would not be quoted, were surprised only one field umpire was present.

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