Rob Perry in action as a goal umpire.

1000 Games & Counting

Friday, October 08, 2010
Becoming an umpire

Having captained Port Noarlunga Senior Colts to runners-up in 1971, Rob Perry was encouraged to consider umpiring.

"My then cricket coach, Fred Pash, convinced me to join the ranks of Umpiring at the commencement of the 1972 season, two years before the Combined Southern Leagues Football Umpires Panel (CSLFUP) was established." Rob explained.

During these first two seasons Rob umpired junior football in the Southern Football League. The induction for umpires was fairly limited in 1972. 

"There was no formal panel, no training and no coach. A couple of experienced people assisted with a very brief induction that basically lasted for the first match (I) umpired," Rob recalled.   

In 1972 and 1973, to compliment his field umpiring appointments Rob volunteered to be the boundary umpire for the Port Noarlunga Football Club running Senior Colts (U17) and A Grade games. 
During the off season between 1973 and 1974 the CSLFUP was established to serve the Southern Football League and Great Southern Football League and to reduce demand on the SANFLUA group who provided umpires state-wide. In the early stages, given there were limited field umpiring appointments available, Rob initially did the boundary umpiring. 

Rob began as a foundation umpire with the CSLFUP in 1974. He explains that the personalities of the group of foundation umpires within the CSLFUP "made my formal introduction into the ranks of umpiring very memorable. I was the youngest person to join and was told that I was the first local to respond to the advertisement seeking umpires."


From these humble beginnings comes a career that has spanned 39 years and 1008 recorded games. Amazingly, the 1008 recorded CSLFUP games does not include the 200+ matches for the SA Super Rules, various carnivals and Rob's umpiring prior to the formation of the CSLFUP.

"Influential umpire coaches over the time have been John Craven, Bob Bache, Ric Charlesworth, Malcolm Caire, David Earl and Darren Hincks in field umpiring together with Martin Clark and Gary Coombes as Goal umpire coaches," Rob recalled. 
Rob stopped field umpiring at the end of 1998 but occassionally enjoys field umpiring junior matches.  "It was like getting back on a bike after falling off albeit a bit rusty - it was great fun!"

Rob places his ability to stay involved for so long down to several factors:

  • Starting young and maintaining a healthy lifestyle  
  • Striving to umpire in Grand Finals
  • Teaching/mentoring new umpires
  • Friendships made along the way

When explaining the friendships Rob explained that "over 1000 guys and girls have been part of my umpiring life since 1974 which in itself says it all".

Rob has never umpired for accolades, rewards or match fees but he has enjoyed being acknowledged by his peers over the journey. However, ultimately it is about being part of the action.

"Umpiring has provided me with the best avenue to participate in one of Australia's greatest sports and it gives you the "best seat in the house" from which to be part of the game regardless of age!"

Amazingly, Rob warned that he won't be the last umpire from CSLFUP to umpire 1000 matches.

Memorable moments

Rob has experienced many memorable moments over the journey. We asked him to outline a few of his highlights:

  • Field Umpiring the Division 1 A Grade Grand Final in 1994 after having been passed over many times and having made an "error in law" during a Preliminary Final the year before that resulted in me missing out in 1993
  • How nervous I was in 2000 when I officiated in my first A Grade Grand Final as a Goal Umpire
  • My 1000th Game
  • Being an Inaugural Inductee into the SFL Hall of Fame
  • Watching former SANFL and AFL players who played in SFL/GSFL teams including Tony Modra (Adelaide Crows, Fremantle), John Platten (Hawthorn) and Robert Muir (St Kilda)
  • Following the careers of umpiring colleagues from the CSLFUP who have gone onto higher levels including current AFL umpires Justin Schmidt (Field), Mark Thomson (Boundary)
  • Meeting prominent local coaches from the two leagues
  • Making lifelong friends
Skills that umpiring has provided

Apart from the memories and friendships that umpiring has provided, Rob believes that umpiring has helped develop skills in:

  • People management
  • Conflict management
  • Communication skills
  • Life skills 
  • Educating and teaching people 
  • Managing change
  • Leadership and mentoring
  • Public speaking

"These skills all come together nicely to strengthen my style of leadership," Rob explained.



  • 1008 games umpired with CSLFUP
    • 707 as a Field and Boundary Umpire (approx 500 field and 200 boundary) 
    • 301 as a Goal Umpire
      150+ finals games umpired
  • 28 CSLFUP Grand Finals:
    • 2 A Grade Field
    • 7 A Grade Goal
    • 5 Reserve Grade Field
    • 5 Reserve Grade Goal
    • 5 Grand Finals Other Grades Field
    • 2 Grand Finals Other Grades Boundary
    • 2 Grand Finals Other Grades Goal
  • 10 Inter Association Games
Major Awards:
  • 1990 Joint Inaugural Life Member of CSLFUP
  • 1991 Golden Service Award CSLFUP
  • 2003 Platinum Service Award (for 30 years service to CSLFUP)
  • 2004 SANFL Merit Award
  • 2000, 2002, 2005 & 2007 Golden Whistle - Goal Umpiring
  • 2007 Southern Football League Hall of Fame Inaugural Inductee
Surf Life Saving

Surf Life Saving has helped maintain off-season fitness and provided a complimentary lifestyle.

Since 1968, Rob has recorded over 1800 Surf Life Saving patrol hours.  He has been awarded with:

  • National Patrol Medal
  • Club Life Member/Life Governor
  • SLS SA Life Member
  • 2008 and 2009 SA Volunteer Life Saver of the Year
  • 2000 Australian Sports Medal

Comment on this story

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Lawrie Barnett, 15-10-10 07:26:
Fabulous history of umpiring and keep going as long as you can. I am over 70 and have umpired over 650 games as central umpire and will be back again in 2011 doing 2 games every Sunday for the Yarra JFL and enjoy every moment. I have never umpired a Grand Final in all that time apart from being a goal umpire!
Sean Scully, 20-10-10 06:34:
Magnificent achievements & a great contributor to society.A person that a lot of umpires should aspire to become with there abilites.
Rick Charlesworth, 21-10-10 20:37:
Congratulations Robin you have achieved a fantastic milestone. It was a pleasure to have you in the panel when I was coach - to umpire with you in the CSFLU Panel and also in Superules (AFL Masters SA). Your commitment to excellence is a lesson for all aspiring umpires. Good luck and keep umpiring.
Year of Birth
This is Our Game
2017 AFL International Cup