Whistle Blower

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

By Adam McNicol
AFL Media

The AFL is heralding the success of its umpire pathway program after it was announced that former Carlton and Essendon player Jordan Bannister will officiate during the 2012 home and away season.

The League is also celebrating another recruit to the program, with Brent Wallace, son of player and coach Terry Wallace, signing up yesterday.

Wallace, a talented junior footballer who played for the Northern Knights in the TAC Cup and Box Hill in the VFL, will start in grassroots competitions this year.

"What happened with Brent Wallace is a great example," AFL umpires manager Jeff Gieschen said on Tuesday.

"He saw Jordan umpiring three or four weeks ago in his first NAB Cup game.

"He went home, spoke to his father Terry, and told him he thought that was something he wouldn't mind pursuing."

In addition, Olympic-standard heptathlete Veronica Thor, who lives in Queensland, has been recruited by the AFL to be a boundary umpire.

"She is currently in New Zealand where she is aiming to represent Australia at the London Olympics," AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson said.

"As part of our pathway into umpiring, we are keen not only to progress former players but also more females and Veronica is a welcome addition to the ranks of potential boundary umpires."

Bannister, meanwhile, is one of six new umpires promoted the senior list after impressing during the NAB Cup.

"Initially, I thought I was only [being encouraged to umpire] because I was an AFL player," the 29-year-old admitted on Tuesday morning.

"But I've done a lot of work with Matt Stevic and other senior AFL umpires.

"I've done all sorts of things, even running out on local football grounds with a whistle, while people are walking their dogs, and blowing it and looking like an idiot.

"It's been a pretty fast process but the guys have helped me so much."
Bannister is the first former player since ex-Bomber and Magpie Mark Fraser made the transition in 2005.

"I want to acknowledge the support Jordan's had from the umpiring group as a whole," Anderson added.

"The way they've embraced Jordan as part of the player to umpire pathway has been fantastic.

"We see it as a really important, legitimate pathway for the future, and we're extremely excited by the fact Jordan has made it onto the senior list this year."

Bannister, who played 14 games for the Bombers and 53 for Carlton between 2001 and 2009, first picked up a whistle in 2010.

"His performance through the trial period has been outstanding," Gieschen said.

"Anybody who saw him umpire through the NAB Cup would recognise that we have a very capable and competent umpire on our hands straight away."

New 2012 umpires:
  • Jordan Bannister - former player with Carlton and Essendon. Began umpiring in 2010 on the former player pathway program.
  • Andrew Mitchell - 137 VFL matches, including the 2009 and 2011 Grand Finals.
  • Brendan Hosking - 37 VFL matches, including the 2011 Grand Final.
  • Craig Fleer - 25 SANFL matches, including the 2011 preliminary final.
  • Gary Fila - 132 SANFL matches, including the 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2011 Grand Finals. Was previously AFL-listed in 2007 and 2008.
  • Nick Foot - 59 TSL matches, including the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Grand Finals.
Tiger Slim, 07-04-12 15:54:
Three cheers for the umpies...!!!! Keep up the great work.. You all dont get enough praise from all the fans, (usually only abuse) but without you this would NOT be such a great game.. SO WET YA WHISTLE,AND GET OUT THERE AND SHOW THEM WHO'S BOSS.
(and give Richmond a free kick just here and there, Please)

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