Chelsea is Grand

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

by Adam McNicol

Chelsea Roffey will become the first female to officiate in an AFL Grand Final after she was chosen as one of the goal umpires for Saturday's big game between Hawthorn and the Sydney Swans.

It is another milestone for Roffey, the only female umpire employed by the League.

She has been the emergency goal umpire for the past two Grand Finals.

"You dream about doing a Grand Final and I've been dreaming about this day for a long, long time," Roffey said at AFL House on Tuesday morning.

"Getting the phone call (from the AFL's umpires boss Jeff Gieschen), I was pretty much speechless.

"I think Jeff said, 'Congratulations,' and I teared up and had a bit of a cry. So that's a bit girly, isn't it!

"So much work goes into umpiring to have the opportunity to go out and do a Grand Final is something that I've worked so hard for.

"There usually is a bit of attention around the fact that I'm female, but I just want to get out there and do the job."

Roffey umpired in last weekend's preliminary final between the Sydney Swans and Collingwood at ANZ Stadium.

In fact, almost all of the umpires chosen for the Grand Final officiated in the Swans-Magpies game.

The three field umpires chosen for the Grand Final - Brett Rosebury, Matt Stevic and Simon Meredith - are the same trio that umpired in Sydney last weekend.

The other goal umpire picked, Luke Walker, partnered Roffey at ANZ Stadium.

And three of the four boundary umpires chosen - Jonathan Creasey, , Mark Foster and Ian Burrows - ran the boundary in Sydney.

The fourth boundary umpire chosen for the Grand Final, Robert Haala, is the only official from the preliminary final involving Hawthorn and Adelaide to be chosen for the decider.

Roffey's chances of being selected for the Grand Final were in some doubt after she failed to call for a video replay when adjudicating a shot at goal from the Swans midway through the final quarter.

She judged the shot to have been touched on the line, although subsequent television replays, which were also shown on the scoreboard at ANZ Stadium, appeared to indicate that the ball had crossed the line.

Nevertheless, the AFL's umpiring department, which has reviewed the video footage and photographs of the decision, is adamant that Roffey made the right call.

Earlier in the game Roffey had called for a video review when Collingwood's Alan Toovey claimed to have soccered a goal.

Roffey was concerned that the ball had hit Toovey's leg above the knee, and the video replays confirmed that, so a behind correctly was awarded.

Stevic, meanwhile, has been named the All Australian umpire after ending the season atop the umpiring department's rankings.

Saturday's game will be his first Grand Final. It will also be the first decider that Simon Meredith has umpired.

In contrast, Brett Rosebury will be umpiring in his fifth consecutive Grand Final.

Rosebury, who umpired the game when the Swans thrashed Hawthorn in Launceston earlier this season, will take the opening bounce.

"Come Grand Final day it's definitely butterflies in the stomach," he said.

"It's really exciting. To walk on the ground, and there's that huge roar and buzz, and go through the national anthem, it's a great feeling to be part of.

"It's a huge honour to be out there on Grand Final day."

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