Shane Chapman will reach a special milestone this weekend when he officiates 500 local AFL games.
The umpire is looking forward to making history in round five when North takes on Central at Jubilee Oval on Saturday.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Chapman said. “I was surprised I went past 400 games.”
The impressive run started in 1986 when he became a boundary umpire in the men’s B grade.
After gaining some experience, he stepped up to the main senior men’s division as an on-field official.
Chapman said no love has been lost for the role over the past three-and-a-half decades.
“I still enjoy umpiring – I just take it year by year,” he said. “Just like the players, there’s good and bad days.”
He has worn different uniforms during his time, starting in a predominately white strip to the current green look.
Chapman has enforced new rules as the game develops and adopts regulations to keep players safe.
“We don’t have a say in it,” he said. “We have to go with what the AFL sends us.”
“There’s always going to be injuries in a contact sport. Our big one is to protect the head.”
The proud Collingwood supporter understands the passion from fans in the ground on match day but explained umpires do have a job to do.
He said he wants the spirit of the sport to remain strong despite the ever-changing conditions.
“I never want to see the emotion be taken out of the game,” he said.
“That’s the beauty and that’s what makes it the number one game in Australia.”
Chapman said he’s come across many talented players in the local league including some who have gone on to play at the highest professional level.
He said being part of the “third team” on the ground does come with a lot of responsibility.
“We are going to make mistakes,” Chapman said. “We don’t have a 360 view and sometimes people get in our way.
“We can’t go off what people say. If we don’t see it ourselves, then we are not going to pay it.”
Umpires meet every week post-match to discuss decisions made during games.
The experienced umpire expressed that most players and supporters don’t often cross the line despite the occasional backlash.
The veteran said he feels “OK” to keep going and encourages any aspiring umpires to join.
“There’s a struggle to get umpires these days,” Chapman said. “If you’ve ever thought about it, give it a go.”