Hawthorn lead way in respect for umps

AFL umpire Dean Margetts has urged football clubs throughout Australia to follow Hawthorn’s lead in a bid to build stronger relationships with whistleblowers.

Margetts and umpire Ben Ryan were invited to spend five days with Hawthorn at their pre-season training camp at Mooloolaba in December. They mixed socially with the players over dinner and golf, did fitness training with the team, sat in on all meetings and built a unique relationship with the Hawks.

Margetts had umpired 239 AFL matches, including seven finals, but had never had the opportunity to spend quality time with the Hawks. While he umpired them seven times in 2013 and three times last year, his contact with the players was limited to match day.

But he noticed a significant difference with the player/umpire relationship in round two this season.

“We always visit both team’s rooms before the games and talk to the players. I was talking to Jarryd Roughead and the first thing he asked me was about my kids,” Margetts said.

“Here was a player who was about to go out into the field of battle and he remembered a conversation we had before Christmas about my personal life.”

Margetts said Hawthorn’s initiative had been another example of the club’s respect for umpires.

The Hawks lost their round two match to Essendon by two points but Luke Hodge still took time to thank the umpires after the siren.

Coach Alastair Clarkson is on the Umpiring Is Everyone’s Business poster and the Hawks stick the weekly umpires’ photos and names on the wall for every match so the players know who they are speaking to.

Margetts said the club had a unique way of dealing with the umpires who were fighting for a position on the list during pre-season games.

“We walked into the room for a NAB Cup game and as usual the pictures were there,” Margetts recalled.

“My face was up there, Luke Farmer’s face was up there, Jeff Dalgleish’s face was up there and then someone had drawn a smiley face on a piece of paper for Scott McPhee because he wasn’t on the list. I’ll never forget his face when he saw that.”

This week is AFL Community Umpires round and the nation’s best umpires have attended training at suburban leagues.

Margetts is the WAFC Umpire Development Manager and said Hawthorn’s example should be copied by clubs at at levels.

“I can see major benefits for umpires going down to WAFL clubs or getting umpires to train with a local community club. It can only enhance relationships and share some respect,” he said.

“I’ve always found that if a Hawthorn player queries a decision on the field, they ask in a respectful way. They are one of the leading clubs in that regard.”