Queensland field umpire Andrew Stephens has been appointed to the senior AFL umpiring panel for 2014.
It’s a case of third time lucky for the 25-year-old Darra local, who has trialled and been rookie listed with the AFL twice before.
Stephens started his umpiring career with the AFL Brisbane Juniors at 13, progressing quickly through the ranks to state league level and, for the past three seasons, the North East Australian Football League (NEAFL).
The four-time Queensland Umpire of the Year said it took him some time to process the news.
“It was a bit surreal, to be honest. I was in a bit of shock initially but then when it sunk in I was walking on air for a while. “ he said.
Stephens credits a lack of playing talent as his reason for taking up the whistle.
“I wasn’t a good footballer but was keen to stay involved in AFL,” he said.
I Just love running around and umpiring the game. It’s the best seat in the house and I love the thrill of running around in the middle of it all.
“Once I get out on the field, everything falls away and I feel like that’s where I belong.”
Stephens joins fellow Queensland field umpire Ben Ryan, who has been on the AFL list since 2011.
Queensland State Umpire Manager Gary Fila said that AFL Queensland was thrilled to have another umpire represent the state on the national stage.
“This is terrific news for Andrew and also for the greater umpiring community in Queensland, “ he said.
“It shows that if you aspire to umpire AFL football and follow in the footsteps of Andrew and Ben, that the pathway is there for you to follow.
“Andrew has been an outstanding leader within the NEAFL/QAFL group for a number of years and has tirelessly strived to get the very best out of himself.
“After going through the rigours of a third AFL trial, his appointment to the senior field umpires list is a credit to his efforts and determination.
“We wish Andrew all the best as he begins to forge his career at the top level and we have no doubt he will do himself, Queensland and the AFL proud.”