AFL Queensland Congratulates Umpires for 50 Years of Service

Pictured: Col Johnson (L) and Denis Gollop (R). 

The ‘team in green’ will be celebrated across Australian rules football fields in Queensland this week for Community Umpiring Week.

In light of the celebrations, AFL Queensland would like to recognise four outstanding members of the Queensland umpiring community whose service has gone above and beyond for more than half a century.

Mackay’s Col Johnson, Sunshine Coast’s Denis Gollop and David Kelly and Hervey Bay’s Graham Hunt have ticked over more than 50 years of umpiring in 2024.

Col started his umpiring career in 1972 on the Gold Coast before moving to Mackay in 2003. His passion to protect young umpires coming through the ranks has been the driving force behind his long career.

“The most enjoyable part of umpiring is the fact that I have a chance to assist and help our junior players with their enjoyment and understanding of the sport whilst ensuring our junior umpires can enjoy their time on the field,” he said.

“I still share that same passion today of protecting the umpires and ensuring that our junior umpires are respected.”

Denis believes he has umpired more than 1,500 games over his career and at least 25 Grand Finals.

His career started in Victoria in 1969, where he umpired the VFA/VFL games in the country league. He then moved to the Gold Coast and umpired QAFL games in the state league before moving to Bundaberg and ultimately the Sunshine Coast.

For Denis, the enjoyment of the game is what keeps him coming back after all these years.

“The reason I have been involved in umpiring for so long is the camaraderie and the love of the game. I believe we have the best seat in the house,” he said.

“Seeing new junior umpires achieve their goals gives me a lot of satisfaction. A few of the umpires whom I mentored are currently knocking on the door of the AFL and makes me proud to think that I encouraged them to reach this position.

“Umpiring helps my fitness level although it is getting harder each year. I still get a buzz with the involvement even after 55 years.”

In Queensland 63 umpires have dedicated more than 25 years of service to the umpiring community.

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