By ANT WINGARD @AntWingard
A pair of AFL Queensland umpires will take the next steps in their respective careers this weekend.
Moments before Tom Lynch and Steven May lead out the Gold Coast Suns on an unfamiliar Gabba surface this evening, fellow Gold Coaster Chris Delany will emerge form the tunnel after getting the call up to officiate his first AFL game.
Delany, 25, received the call on Monday and says the lead up during the week has been full of excitement.
“It’s been a pretty awesome week with all of the messages coming through from everyone, but it hasn’t sunk it yet,” Delany told aflq.com.au.
“I don’t think I’ll get too nervous. It’s more excitement than anything.”
“Training this week had a little bit of a different vibe but I’m just trying to do what I’ve always done.”
A Southport junior, Delany was introduced to umpiring by his dad back in 2007. The pair officiated together for five years after Delany lost interest in playing the game.
“I was playing before and I left in Under 14’s when I decided I didn’t want to play anymore.”
“I wanted to stay involved so I changed to boundary umpiring.”
After being elevated to the NEAFL panel in the competition’s infancy, Delany has since officiated 76 games across NEAFL and QAFL levels, establishing himself as one of the best boundary umpires in the state.
Having been pinpointed last November by the AFL as a potential candidate to gain promotion to the national league, Delany had to beat out two other likely candidates.
“They said ‘we want to pick one of you,’ Delany said.
“The last ten weeks have been a trialling process. It feels like it’s gone quickly but when you look back at it, it’s been a bit drawn out.”
20 kilometres north of the Gabba, another Queensland umpire will too embark on the next stage of his career.
In the Round 6 NEAFL showdown between Aspley and Redland, 19-year-old Isaac Farrell will make his competition debut.
A field umpire, Farrell has soared through the umpiring ranks and despite just 30 AFL Queensland umpiring appearances to his name, was deemed good enough to make the leap.
“The nerves haven’t kicked in yet. I’m sure they will tomorrow,” Farrell told AFLQ.com.au.
“At this point, I’m starting to think about it a little bit but I’m really just trying to think about it as a number game and not to put too much pressure on it.”
In much the same vein as Delany, Farrell grew up in an AFL-mad household, playing football until Under 12’s before falling out of love with the sport.
“I was playing at Morningside at the time and I had just finished playing U12’s and we were losing every game by 100 points,” Farrell said.
“I wasn’t a very good player at all and I just wanted to stay in the game. When I knew the playing career wasn’t going anywhere, I started umpiring as a way of keeping in the game.”
Farrell joined the Brisbane Junior umpires officially in 2011 and has not looked back since.
It’s been nine years since he swapped the guernsey for the whistle, and Farrell’s love and appreciation of the game is better off for it.
“I guess I like just having an influence on the game and just being a part of the game.”
“Obviously, I’ve been a massive football fan my whole life and umpiring is just a way to be involved and watch some great games of football from a front row seat.”
“I notice exactly how umpires are moving, what they’re doing, and it’s helped me understand the decisions the umpires are making out there. I get an insight into the games that I’m watching as well.”
Game number one of NEAFL awaits Farrell this weekend and he hopes to follow in the similar footsteps of Queensland umpire Alex Whetton, who made his AFL in the Round 6 match between Brisbane and Collingwood.
“I’d love to make it to the AFL. Anyone who gets to this level, that’s the goal. If I get there, I’ll be extremely happy.”
“I would say I look up to Alex Whetton. I umpired for the first time with him for the first time this year and just watching him make it to the AFL level inspires me.”