AFL Cairns is very excited about the appointment of Mathew James to the role of Umpire Manager commencing in January 2013. Mathew comes to national regional sport with an unprecedented level of football experience having officiated as a Field Umpire in three AFL Grand Finals.
James umpired 206 AFL games after debuting in 1999. In 2001, 2002 and 2004 he officiated the AFL’s season deciding Grand Finals. He was repeatedly voted the most popular umpire among players.
AFL Cairns President, Gary Young welcomed the appointment. “Matt’s inclusion in our team represents our next big step forward. He brings fantastic experience to our team and will provide a massive leap forward in the way we approach umpiring. His footy record is a good as it gets. He is a terrific bloke, very approachable and will fit into Cairns really well,” said Young.
James will be able to capitalise on the good work done in recent years by previous managers in getting a strong crop of young umpires into the ranks. “He will be a great role model for the young umpires and hopefully inspire them to aim high in what they may be able to achieve in their umpiring,” said Young.
James began umpiring in 1991 in the Footscray District Football League progressing to the VFL in 1994 before joining the AFL in 1999. He also refereed two Test matches in the 2005 International Rules Series between Australia and Ireland.
In May 2010 he announced his retirement from elite umpiring after a persistent calf injury prevented him from umpiring in 2010. He had umpired 206 AFL games, including 16 finals, three of which were Grand Finals.