An AFL boundary umpire’s tale of life in a hub, grand final nerves and a footy year like no other

My partner and I left Melbourne early in the morning of the first Monday in July.

It felt a bit like a mystery flight because it was only a short time before we left that we actually knew where we were going.

We were off for what I thought was going to be a few weeks of umpiring AFL footy in one of the interstate hubs before matches would return to Melbourne.

Now 111 days, 25 coronavirus tests, six hotels and 1,000 kilometres of running later, I’m almost ready to head home.

But not before one last mission — today’s grand final.

It’s been an extraordinary journey of ups and downs as I played my small part in trying to keep this game loved by so many Australians going.

Charter flights, COVID tests and round and round ovals

Myself and my partner were both “working from home” in the various hotels we stayed in.(Supplied)

My first task back in early July was trying to organise “working from home” from an interstate hotel at very short notice.

My daytime job is as a journalist in the ABC’s Asia Pacific Newsroom and, fortunately enough, my boss was very accommodating.

One of the early bizarre experiences came as we boarded the charter flight from Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport.

Instead of going through the main part of the airport, we waited with hundreds of other AFL players, umpires and staff at a private terminal before wandering straight across the tarmac and onto the plane.

In these COVID times, there’s no food on planes and people are spread out as much as possible.

We checked into our first hotel in Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast with dozens of other umpires and their families.

With us all sharing the same floor in the hotel and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner together, it was very quickly starting to feel like Year 8 camp with all your mates.

There was no leaving the grounds of the hotel under the strict 14-day quarantine rules.

As a boundary umpire, a high level of running fitness is key to the job.

But with limited space, it meant endless laps of the hotel oval.

My boundary colleague Michael Marantelli — who is also umpiring the grand final today — set the record with 21.1 continuous kilometres around the oval during one of his runs.

After one week in quarantine, my first match day had finally arrived.

I was preparing for a Saturday afternoon game at the Gold Coast stadium between Fremantle and St Kilda.

But just before leaving for the match, my spot was suddenly in doubt — the result of my COVID test hadn’t arrived and under no circumstances was any player or official involved in matches allowed to participate without recording a negative result in the lead-up.

Some good work by our hub manager meant he was able to get onto the lab and confirm the result was negative.

AFL umpire Ian Burrows getting a coronavirus test.
The last of about 25 coronavirus tests I had across the 2020 season.(Supplied)

COVID tests had become one of the defining features of season 2020.

We were tested before every match and, if lucky enough, sometimes even a couple of times a week.

By my count, I’d racked up about 25 tests over the last few months — some less enjoyable than others.

The occasional one drew some blood, while my favourites were with one particular guy who was quick and would say “now just a short one up the nostril”.

Often there would be a little bit of jostling in the lines to try and position yourself to get one of the “friendly” testers.

A few weeks turns to a few months

Ian Burrows and partner Sofie.
The 2020 season has been like no other, requiring us to spend much of it in hotels as part of AFL “hubs”.(Supplied)

After one week at Southport, logistical reasons meant it was time to move onto another hotel just down the road.

As with the previous hotel, we shared our accommodation with a couple of footy clubs and families and partners of players and officials.

With coronavirus cases in Melbourne continuing to soar, people gathered around TVs on Wednesday that week as AFL boss Gillon McLachlan announced there would be no more footy in Melbourne for the foreseeable future.

Suddenly, what I thought was going to be a few weeks away was looking more like a few months.

By the start of the next week, we’d arrived at our third hotel, this time in Broadbeach, where we would be pretty settled for the next few months.

Hub life meant limiting your interaction with the public, no sitting down in cafes, restaurants or the like, always social distancing and following strict rules on which umpire colleagues you could hang out with.

In fact, the AFL’s hub rule book ran 17 pages long. And for good reason.

A lot had gone into working with governments and other stakeholders to make sure the season could continue safely.

While being away from home for such a long time and following such tight rules wasn’t always easy, we were fully aware of the hard times so many other Australians were going through, particularly those in Melbourne.

But if we could help keep footy on TV and in the stadiums for the fans, we were happy.

Three matches in just over a week, and a snake encounter

Boundary umpire Ian Burrows, left, is presented with the match ball by umpire Brett Rosebury.
Before moving to Queensland I was presented with the match ball after my 300th AFL game earlier this year — one of the last games in Melbourne for the season.(Supplied)

The next three months of hub life, like 2020 in general, were full of twists and turns and unexpected moments.

Never before had I umpired three matches in just over a week but that’s what came with the “footy frenzy” periods of the season where games were played every day.

Training in this COVID world was a whole different story as well.

No more big group sessions on the track and meetings in theatrettes, but instead running by yourself and coaching over Zoom.

There was one running session I did along a gravel path in a bushy area near Surfers Paradise that I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

Moving along at just over 3-minute-kilometre pace, I was puffing hard and keeping a close eye on my watch.

Turns out I should have been keeping an even closer eye on the path, because I was centimetres away from stomping on a snake.

I noticed it at the very last second, as it did me. I jumped and it jumped.

Luckily we both escaped unscathed — other than a soaring heart rate that I struggled to bring back down.

A night grand final, outside Victoria

By mid-October, I’d umpired all 18 home and away rounds, with trips to Adelaide and Cairns in between, and three finals.

But the most nervous wait of all was still to come.

The last Sunday before grand final day is always an anxious day for umpires — we’re waiting to find out who has been selected for the biggest match of all.

As soon as I saw the coach’s name pop up on my phone late in the afternoon, my heart rate was again going through the roof.

And as soon as I answered I was immediately listening for hints in his voice of good or bad news to come.

Fortunately for me, it was good news this time.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in a few epic grand finals before, including the 2010 draw.

But never has the finale been played outside of Victoria. And never before at night.

This one is going to be special. And I reckon it might just be another classic.

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Former umpires boss defends Ray Chamberlain

Former AFL umpires boss Wayne Campbell has defended Ray Chamberlain after the veteran umpire struggled with the bounce last Thursday night.

Chamberlain was called out by Geelong coach Chris Scott during the game for bouncing to the left of the centre circle, favouring the closer ruckman.

Campbell believes the turf at Adelaide Oval would have been causing issues for umpires.

“If you watch umpires when they first get to the ground, they’ll go straight to the centre circle. Sometimes the turf in the middle gets re-laid because it gets a bit worn and it’s an umpire’s worst nightmare,” he told SEN’s Bob and Andy.

“If it gets re-laid, it’s soft and they can’t bounce the ball up. They love getting to the SCG and the Gabba because of the cricket pitch because you don’t have to worry about that softness.

“If you watch Ray he’ll be padding a spot down to try and get the hardest possible surface because he’s not built to bounce the ball.”

Campbell elaborated, saying the bounce causes more damage mentally and physically to umpires than many would expect.

“I’ve been pretty strong about this … it’s not his fault. (Chamberlain) is a bloody good umpire and a bloody good decision maker, but he’s got really short arms and he can’t bounce the ball high,” he said.

“(Chamberlain) cops it and I just feel so sorry for him. What he’s trying to do is find a hard surface which is then to the left of the line and then because it doesn’t bounce that high it favours the player that’s closest to the ball.

“I can understand Chris Scott’s frustration, but it’s hard to direct it at Ray given we’ve got this game that demands this ridiculous skill that I think is sort of outdated.

“Ray Chamberlain has had a shoulder reconstruction and it’s only because of the bounce.

“Shaun Ryan has had a bad back for 10 years and it stopped him umpiring a little bit.

“If we want the bounce to be there, there’ll be issues with the bounce and you’ll have umpires getting injured when if you took the bounce away you wouldn’t have those injuries.

“Once you get inside umpiring and you see the mental and physical anguish (the bounce) causes, for me the upside is not quite worth it.”

The Herald Sun reported that Chamberlain will umpire Saturday night’s Semi Final between Collingwood and Geelong.

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Umpires should regulate stagers on the field, not AFL tribunal, says Stephen Milne, Chris Scott

“You don’t obviously do it on purpose. You might milk it a little bit, put a little bit of mayonnaise on top,” Milne said.

“When I was playing you did it and it was up to the umpire to know that you’re doing it. If he pulled it up you would not do it anymore.

Stephen Milne believes staging should be regulated by the umpires.Credit:Vince Caligiuri

“I was pulled up by the umpire on two or three occasions and he said ‘Milney’, and I’d say, ‘Yeah I wasn’t meaning it’, but you do try to trick the umpire every now and then.”

It was part of Milne’s charm and a tactic that most players – if not all – have used during their career, sometimes enraging supporters in the moment. Then the moment passed and it was forgotten without an official stamp to brand a player for life.


Since 2010 Leroy Jetta, Jarrad Waite, Ryan Crowley, Lynden Dunn, Michael Walters, Brayden Maynard, Alex Rance, Tom Papley, Mark Blicavs, Dylan Grimes, Josh Greene and Callum Sinclair have been fined or warned or for staging, with Brendon Goddard and Kane Cornes questioned about the issue when it first became a focus.

But everyone does it according to those who know such as Hall of Fame member Malcolm Blight, who reminded SEN listeners on Thursday that “staging has been going on forever”. Even Geelong coach Chris Scott, who has a low tolerance for staging, said it’s easy to be holier than thou about the issue until you’re in the game.

“Sometimes these things are an instinctive reaction. You can say in principle I would never exaggerate contact as a player and then you are in the moment and before you know it you have done it,” Scott said.

He said he was, in principle, against fining players as a deterrent and said he was happy when umpires told players they did not win a free because they ducked their head or exaggerated contact.


“I think that, in general, is good policy,” Scott said.

A quick chat during a game helped regulate Milne in a career in which he kicked 574 goals in 275 games, slightly more than two goals per game.

He is philosophical about umpiring and players trying to win frees.

“I could have got 50 more free kicks and given away 50 more, you win some, you lose some,” Milne said.

“I thought the two on the weekend [involving Richmond’s Dylan Grimes and Nick Vlastuin] were not as big a deal as everyone thought they were.”

Milne makes a good point in saying that the context of the match informs the reaction to what the players do, with the margin critical to how supporters and the AFL seem to respond.

“Every player has done it but if a player does it two or three times the name gets bought up such as [Tom] Papley … if it happens four or five times, they start saying are you doing it all the time,” Milne said.

It’s now 10 years since Milne, along with Lance Franklin, Alan Didak and Cornes, appeared on an AFL video to illustrate the new rule “staging misconduct”.

It’s become clear this week that the ramifications of officially labelling a player a stager have grown bigger than imagined possible.

The players, past and present, seem in favour of self-regulation.

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Carlton players ‘pulled one over’ umpires with last-kick win, says Longmuir

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir believes Carlton players pulled the wool over the umpire’s eyes during the controversial finish to Saturday night’s match — but he doesn’t feel hard done by.

The Dockers suffered a heart-breaking four-point loss when Blues midfielder Jack Newnes nailed a 45-metre set shot from the boundary line after the final siren, lifting Carlton to the 5.10 (40) to 5.6 (36) victory at Optus Stadium.

A series of controversial decisions led to the match-winning goal — and Fremantle was on the wrong side of all of them.

Arguably the biggest talking point was the fact that it should have been Michael Gibbons — not Newnes — who was awarded the final shot on goal.

With just 16 seconds remaining, Dockers forward Matt Taberner was pinned for deliberate out-of-bounds — a decision that appeared to be correct.

Sam Docherty quickly played on but his kick inside 50m sailed out on the full.

However, the Blues were awarded a down-field free-kick given that Docherty was bowled over by Andrew Brayshaw during a failed smother attempt from the Fremantle midfielder — a decision that immediately sparked debate.

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said the Dockers will cop the controversial loss on the chin and move on.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Gibbons appeared to be the closest player to the ball when it left the field, but the umpires ruled Newnes the closest.

Longmuir said he was well aware of the mistake, but he copped the decision on the chin.

“Every team would have tried to do the same thing, and they probably pulled one over the umpire’s eyes,” Longmuir said.

“But that’s alright. That’s footy. We’ll take it, cop it on the chin, move on and get better.

Carlton coach David Teague said he was happy the ball was in Newnes’ hands.

“He’s a really straight kick, which I like. Especially when it’s a bit wet and slippery, you don’t really want to be kicking around corners,” Teague said.

“I just sat there and enjoyed it. That kick changes four points for our football club.”

A group of Carlton AFL players wave to their supporters in the stands.
The Blues kept alive their finals hopes with the last-gasp victory.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

But he said Gibbons also would have been a good option.

“He likes having those shots at training and kicks them quite regularly, so I would have been quite comfortable if he had that kick as well,” Teague said.

Longmuir didn’t feel Brayshaw did anything wrong in his smothering attempt on Docherty that led to the relayed free-kick.

“From what I saw, Andy Brayshaw goes to smother and makes contact,” Longmuir said.

“If the same situation arose again, I’d ask Andy Brayshaw to put frontal pressure on and try to smother the ball. That’s where I sit with it.”


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Brad Hardie hangs up on regular radio 6PR Weekend Breakfast segment over AFL umpires bouncing the ball

Umpires are instructed to recall the ball and throw it up in the centre square if their initial bounce travels outside the circle perimeter and Hardie, who urged them to work on the practice after constant sub-standard examples this year, clashed with Genovese after a caller said the the iconic centre bounce should remain.

“I used to agree with you Brad: that the expectation should be that they nail it every single time,” said Genovese, who used to run around for Subiaco in the WAFL.

“But then I had a go of bouncing the ball in the middle of a footy oval and it hit me in the face and it was the most embarrassing thing and I remember thinking, ‘Gee this is a lot harder than it looks’.”

Hardie said throwing the ball up would become an “absolute foodfest” if ruckmen with great leaps like West Coast’s Nic Naitanui knew exactly how high the ball was going to be, citing legendary WA tap exponents Stephen Michael and Graham Farmer as exemplars of the skill required to counteract imperfect bounces inside the circle.

“We’re not another sport, we are Australian rules football, which has been around for 150 years,” Hardie said.

“There is history in this game and part of the history is bouncing the ball and that’s all they’ve got to do.

“And if you blokes want to play basketball, or something else that is so predictable, go right ahead my friend.”

“I think Hardie might have just hung up on you Gena,” bemused co-host Carmen Braidwood quipped.

“Nah … did he really? We’ve still got calls on the line of people wanting to talk to him,” Genovese bemoaned.

“All I’m saying is, if you throw the ball up, a coach who knows that his ruckman isn’t as good as the other ruckman will set up differently to try win the clearance. Coaches and other players will adapt.”

Former Dockers captain Matthew Pavlich

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Essendon coach John Worsfold left satisfied after a meeting with the AFL umpires

Essendon coach John Worsfold exited a meeting with the AFL umpiring department last week “satisfied” he and his players were clear on rules around holding the ball.

On the back of frustration from his players, and supporters, the Bombers coach sought an explanation from the AFL.

Essendon has lost the free-kick count in each of its past six matches, giving away 28 more frees that it has received in that time, including a 26-19 count against the GWS in last Friday’s loss.

A controversial holding-the-ball decision against Essendon midfielder Andrew McGrath against Brisbane, when he was penalised after picking the footy up and wrestling for possession with the Lions’ Jarryd Lyons, also enraged AFL pundits.

Worsfold said he was “pretty clear” on rules around going for the footy and comfortable with the holding-the-ball interpretation.

“We’re pretty clear on rule about going for the ball, hopefully,” he said on Monday.

“We did talk to the umpiring department last week and not much has changed in terms of the rules and the interpretations since then. We’re comfortable we know where we sit in that regard.

“There was a bit of frustration from us and from our supporters around what seemed to be some free kicks going against us that people felt we were hard done by.

“Really just clarifying around how they are interpreting their decision making, which hasn’t changed from what I saw earlier in the year and what I saw last year as well.”

The holding-the-ball rule is back in the spotlight after horror decisions in Sunday’s game between Carlton and West Coast.

Blues coach David Teague said his players were “seeking a fair bit of clarity” around the umpires adjudicating the rules.

But Worsfold said he left his meeting with the umpires satisfied with how it was explained to him.

“Very satisfied,” he said.

“I’d be more satisfied if we ended up on the positive count, but that’s out of our control. We are just going to play.”

Worsfold confirmed forward Jacob Townsend would miss Wednesday’s clash with Gold Coast due to concussion.

But he was “really confident” defender Jordan Ridley would play after being forced to exit the loss to GWS last week early after taking a blow to his ribs.

He has all three ruckmen – Sam Draper, Tom Bellchambers and Andrew Phillips – available for selection and said injured players including Cale Hooker, Orazio Fantasia and Patrick Ambrose could be “pushing” for Sunday’s clash against St Kilda.


26-19 v GWS (L)

16-24 v Brisbane (L)

16-20 v Adelaide (W)

12-17 v Western Bulldogs (L)

18-20 v North Melbourne (W)

12-21 v Collingwood (W)

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AFL directives and coaches’ complaints on holding the ball are leading to uncertainty and pressure on umpires

In recent months, the regular of umpiring has come to be an escalating source of frustration for supporters who are rightly perplexed by the from time to time-inconsistent software of the procedures. But is it truly the umpire’s fault or much more a symptom of micro-management?

Coaching terrific David Parkin suggests there’s no additional challenging game to officiate than Australian Regulations Soccer. Becoming an umpire is a thankless occupation carried out in a prolonged-set up ecosystem of ridicule and derision.


The ‘umps’ make break up-next conclusions frequently beneath actual physical tiredness and with their see obscured by the present day game’s mass congestion.

Gamers are also learn manipulators, who just take advantage when umpires are blindsided and use refined approaches to coerce them into having to pay unwarranted free kicks.

In regular seasons, heaving crowds also build a flamable environment that whistle-blowers should obtain mind-boggling.

But maybe the biggest problem for umpires is that football, the quick-paced 360-diploma recreation, has extra grey than a London summer season and also will come with varying levels of interpretation.

What could appear a blatant holding the ball in the eyes of a Collingwood supporter could also spark a Carlton fan’s screams for a force in the again, even though the umpire may ascertain it is really merely a ball up — one incident, 3 distinctive viewpoints, three people certain of their interpretation.

Clarkson memo a catalyst for enthusiast stress

Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson’s comments on the holding the ball rule have increased the pressure on umpires.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

To my eye, the fans’ irritation with umpiring has coincided with the Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson’s phone calls for a stricter interpretation of holding the ball.


The AFL responded by issuing a memo to the umpires requesting a tighter software of the rule relating to gamers building a real attempt to dispose of the footy.

Ever since, the umpires have looked clouded in uncertainty when it arrives to holding the ball, major to an increase in choices that perplex.

The league felt compelled to place out a statement soon after Monday night’s clash in between Adelaide and St. Kilda acknowledging umpiring glitches and that a lot more work was wanted to make sure extra regularity in conclusion producing, significantly with regards to holding the ball choices.

What the AFL failed to admit was the function it experienced performed in creating umpire confusion by demanding variations to how they interpret keeping the ball.

The ‘Clarkson memo’ only established a further shade of grey, major to higher uncertainty and improved tension on umpires.

AFL players have long held the look at that the league also normally makes an attempt to impact the way the match is officiated.


Geelong premiership captain Cameron Ling generally speaks of the ‘rule of the week’ whilst Fellow ABC Grandstand professional and 300-game participant Brendon Goddard has also expressed his annoyance with regular shifts in interpretation.

Goddard thinks umpire mistakes are just a feature of football and has bemoaned the weekly umpire opinions that direct to reactive actions.

“I have in no way understood the emphasis space [of the rules] week to week,’ he claimed.

“The umpires are only human, so it is really entrance of their brain heading into following week.

Greene the vital for erratic Giants

If you were being seeing Friday night time football this week you were lucky plenty of to witness one of the AFL’s most harming players, Toby Greene, at his match-profitable ideal.

A GWS Giants players pumps his right first as he looks to his right while celebrating a goal against Richmond.
Toby Greene booted five treasured ambitions for GWS as the Giants got the much better of Richmond on Friday night.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

With 3 wins and 4 losses heading into the clash from final year’s grand closing opponent Richmond, Greater Western Sydney’s season was on a knife’s edge.


In his return from personal injury, Greene kicked 5 aims such as the only significant in a tense last phrase to encourage the Giants to a essential 12-stage gain. Greene is a hard-nosed previous-college footballer with exceptional aerial skill, a good footy mind, wonderful poise and harmony.

He is also a dependable shot at aim, which is an significantly uncommon top quality. Experienced Greene not played on Friday evening the Giants would by no means have gained and a time that started out with great optimism would have just about lay in ruin.

I am battling to consider of a player additional critical to the results or failure of his staff than Larger Western Sydney’s star selection four.

Speaking of the four, that is exactly where West Coastline finds by itself soon after an 11-goal thrashing of competitors heavyweight Collingwood.

In holding with the pattern of their season, the Magpies started strongly and led by 14 details at quarter-time. From there, it was all West Coast with Tim Kelly making his ideal performance for his new club and veteran forward Josh Kennedy winding again the clock with a seven-intention haul.

You will find no place like residence and with the worries of Queensland hub-daily life seemingly a distant memory, the Eagles are rising as the premiership threat most anticipated them to be.

Saints on the rise with Ratten

An AFL coach smiles before the game.
It really is been a struggle for St Kilda in modern a long time, but less than coach Brett Ratten, the Saints are again in the major four.(AAP: Dave Hunt, file image)

This spherical also even more emphasised the emergence of St Kilda as a side to be reckoned with.

In 2016 the unheralded Western Bulldogs based their exhilarating finals assault around the motto: ‘Why not us?’. The Saints have every single appropriate to borrow from the ‘Bullies’ as they too chase a prized next premiership.

The sight of coach Brett Ratten sitting down contented on the bench close to the end of Saturday night’s win above top rated-of-the-table Port Adelaide was a genuinely attractive moment.

A premiership successful midfielder with Carlton, Ratten has endured huge periods of hardship publish his adorned participating in profession. He is been unceremoniously sacked as mentor of the club he represented with good difference and lived through every parent’s worst nightmare, the tragic reduction of a youngster in a car crash.

Ratten’s infectious personality, caring mother nature and sharp soccer intellect has made an huge affect at St Kilda and the aspect has developed much more than a hint of the dedicated and immediate technique that outlined their coach as a player.

A great deal like that trademark Ratten grin, the Saints of 2020 are a single of footy’s excellent sights.


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AFL umpires panned in St Kilda win over Adelaide Crows

The Adelaide Crows’ disastrous season has extended to 0-7 with 10 straight losses after a 12.6 (78) to 8.7 (55) defeat at the hands of St Kilda.

While St Kilda led from beginning to end, Adelaide were well and truly in their clash against St Kilda until midway through the final quarter when Taylor Walker booted his second goal to make it a nine-point ball game.

But the Saints clicked into gear with three late goals to open up the 23-point margin.

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Unfortunately the umpiring was in the spotlight with Fox Footy commentator Jonathan Brown admitting the umpires “had a bad night” with controversial moments for both sides littering the contest, much to the chagrin of fans.

From the commentators have slammed an “ugly” moment in the early exchanges between the teams.

The Saints kicked the first goal in the clash after Adelaide’s Ben Keays gave away a free kick, but was unhappy when he was pushed after the whistle.

The kick went to St Kilda’s Jade Gresham who kicked around the corner and hit the post in a disappointing kick.

But Keays ran over and knocked him down with the commentators discussing it should be out of the game.

Eddie McGuire said it should get out of the game.

“See this routine of where players go up and push blokes over? It’s going to be in the gun,” he said. “It’s coming up big time in discussions and I know (AFL Operations Manager) Stephen Hocking doesn’t like it at all and there are a lot of people who don’t.”

Jonathan Brown said “It’s an ugly look”, while Nick Riewoldt add “It’s not tough”.

“If you did it 30 years ago, you would have copped one straight in the mouth, “ he said. “You obviously can‘t do that any more.”

“All this routine, it‘s not got a fan at AFL House I can promise you,” McGuire added.

It could be another thing for the umpires to worry about with the holding the ball issue taking plenty of focus.

But with a crowd in at Adelaide Oval adding an excellent atmosphere, the umpiring came under the microscope with some divisive calls.

Taylor Walker kicked the first one for the Crows after a contentious call after seemingly going nowhere near the ball and copping the smallest of contract with Brown saying there was “not a lot in it”.

The Saints’ Bradley Hill then got a very generous holding the ball call when he was given plenty of time to get rid of the ball. And the contentious calls going all the way through.

The fourth quarter started with a Saints goal for Dean Kent off a holding the ball free kick, when McGuire said it may have been a push in the back and was surprised by the decision.

“It’s just a lottery Ed,” Riewoldt added.

Despite being down the entire game, the Crows were hitting back in the fourth quarter having narrowed the scoreline to 16-points.

Walker took a belter of a mark, going high over the top to make the grab about 25m out but the umpires didn’t pay the mark much to the incredulity of commentators.

He then got paid a more on the 50m arc soon after but pushed it across the face before kicking his second for the match with 9:24 remaining, making a nine point ball-game at 9.4 (58) to 7.7 (49).

But it was where the joy stopped for the Crows with the Saints kicking three straight goals to wrap up the 23-point win.

Fans were furious over the umpiring, savaging the officials for their performance.

Swans legend Jude Bolton slammed the calls and called for a rollback in changes.

“Baffled by some of the umpiring decisions,” he wrote. “Incredibly tough gig due to constant changing of rules & interpretations.

“In a situation now, where we need the AFL to unravel some of the changes brought in. Holding the ball needs an overhaul.”

Post-game, Riewoldt said he had no idea went holding the ball would be called.

“We watch a lot of footy and I have to admit, I have no idea which way some of these decision will go,” he said.

Jason Dunstall replied: “I tell you what though, regardless of whether you get them all right or wrong, I like what it’s done to the game because what it means now is that the players are desperate to get the ball out. Inevitably, it will come out. They don’t hold onto it and go ‘we’ll have a stoppage here’.”

“It’s going to start to deincentivise winning the footy though,” Riewoldt finished.

St Kilda coach Brett Ratten was asked about the holding the ball and didn’t really want to answer it.

“Yeah, anyway, um, that’s not my job to do that,” he said. “Sometimes it would be pretty hard to be a ball player and put your hands on it. We have to be careful that we haven’t got players just sitting there waiting to tackle players. That’s not how we want to play the game. But it’s a fine line, you’ve got to be given some sort of chance to get rid of it. But we’ll leave it to the umpires.”

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Alastair Clarkson blames umpires for AFL mess after another scrappy weekend of congestion

Four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson feels the same irritation a lot of enthusiasts do at the present congested state of the activity and has termed on the AFL to act.

Clarkson declared Hawthorn’s four-issue gain in excess of North Melbourne at Docklands stadium on Sunday “a terrible spectacle”, with number of positives past the 4 premiership details.

Like several other folks in the latest a long time, definitely this season, the contest got bogged down in gradual, unimaginative ball motion, with overpopulated stoppages generating for a tricky, albeit near, contest to enjoy.

AFL main government Gillon McLachlan has urged coaches to participate in a additional desirable, significant-scoring design, but Clarkson believes a basic instruction to umpires from head business to reward the tackler will do the trick.

“The umps are doing what they are informed to do, what’s coaching received to do with it?” Clarkson reported.

The Hawks laid 69 tackles in the video game versus North Melbourne.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

“We instruct our players to deal with and if a participant will not dispose of the ball correctly then the rule e-book suggests to blow the whistle and participate in a totally free kick.

“But the seagulls usually are not spreading out any extra due to the fact we’re just not paying the cost-free kick, however we are going to do a person for tiggy-touchwood ruck or marking infringement.

“But they will never pay the types for holding the ball.

“It truly is frustrating.”

Clarkson was at a reduction to make clear how his workforce laid 69 tackles from the Roos and did not obtain a one tackle-certain absolutely free kick.

“What is took place to our activity? You cannot have that many tackles and not just one of them be incorrect disposal,” the coach ongoing.

“You surprise why the recreation is an arm wrestle and that you are unable to get any open footy.

Geelong coach Chris Scott, immediately after his side’s 3-issue earn over Melbourne, claimed decreasing teams from 18 to 16 players on the industry would clearly minimize congestion.

Two AFL players from Geelong and Melbourne pull on each other's jumper as they look to the sky waiting for the ball.
Geelong was ahead of Melbourne by a place at half time in their MCG contest, with each sides kicking just two targets every.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

Clarkson utilised the Cats-Demons match to illustrate his stage.

“The AFL can not be content,” he mentioned.

“Two targets every single [at half time] on a stunning winter’s working day? No rain and it truly is Geelong and Melbourne who I both feel will perform finals this yr.

“Fair dinkum …”

Clarkson urged the AFL to transfer away from its need to safeguard the participant earning a bid for the ball instead than reward the tackler.

“I’m sorry for shitcanning our own model and our very own club and our have workforce in this room,” he mentioned.

“But I was so dissatisfied in the way we played and I was so unhappy with the way that the match is getting performed appropriate at the existing time.

“It can be disheartening and it ought to be aggravating our enthusiasts.”


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Adelaide Oval Showdown in doubt because of travel restrictions on AFL umpires and staff

Plans for an AFL Showdown at Adelaide Oval in round two have hit a “snag” because South Australian border restrictions mean there may not be enough umpires and broadcast staff already in the state.

The potential problem could mean Adelaide and Port Adelaide pack up and travel to a hub in Queensland a week earlier than they had hoped.

SA Premier Steven Marshall has asked the AFL to allow the Power and the Crows to play a home Showdown once the season resumes in three weeks’ time.

He said potential issues with getting interstate commentators, camera operators and umpires into SA had only been identified yesterday.

“It’s important to make sure that we do have the appropriate standard for an AFL game.

“We’ll look at the submission that they’ve put in and if we’ve got an announcement today then I’m sure we’ll make it.”

A crowd watches a game at Adelaide Oval
The Showdown usually attracts big crowds to Adelaide Oval.(ABC News: Malcolm Sutton)

SA Health said it was also examining the proposal and could make a decision as early as today.

The Showdown would be the first game back for both clubs after coronavirus restrictions are expected to be lifted.

The State Government has already given Port Adelaide and Adelaide permission to resume contact training from Monday.

However, Crows chief executive Andrew Fagan today said the logistics of staging an AFL match would be complex while borders remained shut.

“If not, I guess we’ll be back up to Queensland a week earlier than we’d hoped.”

‘Mutual desire’ to play in Adelaide

Fagan said he had spoken to Port Adelaide CEO Keith Thomas and both clubs wanted the game to be held in Adelaide, but it would not be easy.

A man dressed in a suit sitting on a chair looking past the camera
Fagan said there is a mutual desire to play the game in Adelaide.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

“I think there’s a desire to get the Showdown here, a mutual desire from the AFL and from the South Australian Government and obviously from the two football clubs,” he said.

He said if the game did go ahead, the club would “certainly ask the question” about the possibility of allowing small groups at the game to watch, while abiding by social distancing restrictions.

However, he said that would ultimately be up to South Australian health authorities.

Earlier this week, Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley took a swipe at the AFL’s plans to house both Port Adelaide and Adelaide in the same hotel hub.

The South Australian clubs look set to both be housed at the same Gold Coast resort for at least seven weeks when the AFL resumes.

Ken Hinkley looks off in the distance with a giant crow mascot in the background
Power coach Ken Hinkley has raised concerns with AFL hubs.(AAP: David Mariuz)

“We have these great matches, these great grudge matches, and we’re going to go into a place and be all buddies?

“I’m not sure about that. It just doesn’t quite feel right in Adelaide.”

The two clubs were set to relocate to a Gold Coast training hub this Sunday, but following the training exemptions, both clubs said they would delay plans to relocate.

Both teams will now stay in South Australia to continue their training before the resumption of the AFL season on June 11.

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