Friday 1 April 2011

It’s a long way to the AFL senior list from Rockhampton, but Ben Ryan has negotiated the development highway and reached the summit.

Ryan was last week appointed to the AFL umpires panel and is expected to get his first appointed within a month, having sat on the bench as the emergency umpire for last weekend’s Lions-Dockers game at the Gabba.

As is the case with players, Ryan is living proof that the pathway to senior AFL ranks is there for anyone, anywhere in the vast State of Queensland.

“I started umpiring up in Rockhampton, which is non-AFL heartland, and moved down here in 2000 to start umpiring senior footy,” Ryan said.

“I’ve been working hard since all that began and fortunately got a spot on the AFL list.”

Ryan has been on trialling for a spot on the senior list for the last three years, and has umpired the QAFL grand final in each.

He has also controlled State football and NAB Cup matches.

Ryan believes he will be more excited rather than nervous when he finally gets his first premiership match.

“I feel like I’m ready,” he said. “Having trailed with the AFL for the last three years and done NAB Cup games every year, I’ve been less and less nervous every year going into those games.

“Part of me feels when I do get my first game I will be less nervous because in the NAB Cup, getting on the list was dependent on those games.

“Hopefully I’ll umpire really well.”

Ryan paid tribute to a number of former Queensland senior umpires for helping him along the journey.

“The first person who got me umpiring different carnivals and giving me some valuable feedback when he was working at AFLQ was Murray Bird,” Ryan said of the former 43-gamer. “He has been very important.

“Matt-Lee-Archer, who did seven (QAFL) grand finals and trialled three times (for the AFL senior list) has been a great role model for me on and off the field.

“Jason Armstrong, who is a Victorian who got on the senior list from here in Queensland, was great for me too – he was a really good mentor.”

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