There is no better time to see the high turnover of umpires at VFL level than the start of a new year.
In 2012 all the development squads will be almost unrecognisable from 2011 with promotions, retirements and delisting leaving large gaps to be filled.
Special congratulations go to those umpires who are taking the biggest step, that to the AFL. Field umpires Andrew Mitchell (138 VFL matches), Brendan Hosking (38) and Jordan Bannister (17) and boundary umpires Graham Bergroth (88), Chris Esler (49), Matthew Jenkinson (65) and Matthew Tomkins (37) will all make their AFL debuts this season, a dream that for most began at a suburban competition. Jordan Bannister will become the 81st former player to take charge of a VFL/AFL game and the first since Mark Fraser since 2005.
Of the other AFL invite-for-trial field umpires Matthew Brown, Tristan Burgess, Shaun Gleeson, and David Harris will all resume their VFL duties this season having experienced a big AFL pre-season and no doubt encouraged to try again next year.
Ashley Bedford, Tim Carlos, Jack Edwards, Robert Monk and Haydn O'Connor have all been promoted from the Development Squad and Leigh Fisher comes onto the list via the AFL Player pathway.
Fourteen new VFL field umpires will populate the Development Squad: David Anselmi, Thomas Chrystie, James Davey, Hayden Gavine, Heath Grundy, Matthew Harvey, Adam Havelberg, Jordan O'Toole, Matthew Piper, Joshua Schultz, Rick Taig, Scott Vanstone, Tyson Venn and David West.
Across the whole field umpiring list Damian Anderson, Tim Carrington, James Twining and Scott McLeod retired. Scott has recently been appointed as Umpires Director at the Geelong Football Umpires League. Nick Brown has moved to Perth and will umpire with the WAFL, whilst Daniel Craig is taking a twelve month break to recover from injury. Peter Liakos was delisted.
On the boundary the Senior Squad welcomes Leslie Aldrich, Lachlan Alexander, Adam Bell, John Cooper, Josh Geraghty, Andrew Leggo, Josh Mather, Jarrod McPhee, Tinashe Nyatsanga and Geoff Pascoe all promoted from the Development Squad. Tim Lougoon returns after taking 2011 off. These umpires replace the AFL promotions, Adrian Masterman-Smith (retired), Steve Neal, Josh Tilley and Matthew Townsend (all retired).
Only seven of the 2011 Development Squad will remain on that list accompanied by seventeen new faces. Brothers Brynton and Rory Ashton, Chris Cato, Lawrence Coop, Patrick Dineen, Rhys Duggan, Shaun Geraghty (brother of Josh), Brendan Gherashe, Dominic Hoskins, Jack Lewis, Jeff Miller, Lachlan Rayner, Cameron Rycroft, James Scholes, Thomas Skkinner and Michael Walters.
Chris Dixon, Troy Duncan,Patrick Flanagan (injury), Daniel Hawkesworth, Jay Masterman-Smith (work)and James Sackl all retired.
As is often the case with the goal umpires there was less movement at the top end as a result of the AFL choosing not to make any replacement of the one retirement that occurred at the end of last season.
VFL and VFUA Life Member Lloyd Fisk retired at the end of the preseason bringing down the curtain on a career totaling 177 VFL and 29 AFL matches. Richard Thwaites also called time after 63 VFL matches in a decade at the VFL. Brad Letson succumbed to injury and over the summer decided to retire. Combining 17 AFL matches in 2008-2009 with 96 VFL matches what might have been for Brad had leg troubles not ended his career early?
The Goal Development Squad also had retirements: Tim Tingiri (triathalons), Ricky Wallace and Glenn Young. Ashley Crawford was delisted.
Dylan Benwell and Simon Plumridge were the two new umpires on the Senior List having impressively negotiated the pre-season.
New to the development goal list are Sam Booth, Alex Brown, Luke Bush, Matt Edwards, Wesley Gilmour, Ben Murray, David Wallace and Sam Walsh
A number of umpires are taking time-out for season 2012 with a view to returning next year: Cruze O'Hea (field), Luke Dowse and Travis Taylor (injury, boundary) and Matt Sanders (injury, goal). We wish them all the best in regaining the best of health and returning to umpiring.
From the VFUA to all its members, old and new have a great 2012!