Margetts committed to generation next
Dean Margetts. Pic: Micahel O'Brien/WA News

Dean Margetts knows he is a dying breed.

One of WA's most experienced umpires, Margetts feels lucky to have officiated in 218 AFL matches in 12 seasons despite still living in Perth.

The 39-year-old predicts that within five years, all whistle- blowers aspiring to rub shoulders with the game's elite players will need to be based in Melbourne.

Margetts has this month been appointed the WA Football Commission's new umpiring development manager.

His advice to those wanting to pull on the lime green uniform worn by the game's modern umpires was to have composure, confidence and the courage to make the right call.

A willingness to travel for the job is also a basic necessity, with Margetts spending up to four days a week away from wife Leanne and his two children.

"I'm very fortunate to be able to be a part of the best game in the world and do it from Perth," Margetts said.

"In three or four years' time, I think every umpire will need to be based in Melbourne. That's where they're going with that.

"Obviously they'll say that if you draft a young kid from Fremantle you can't live in Freo and play for Hawthorn. You've got to live there.

"I think umpiring will have that footy club mentality."

Margetts started umpiring at 24 and said being a "footy head" and knowing all the players had helped propel him to AFL level.

He is old enough to have umpired West Coast captain Darren Glass in a colts grand final and still remembers his first AFL game - a round-five blockbuster in 2002 between West Coast and Brisbane where he was surrounded by midfield royalty in Michael Voss, Jason Akermanis and Ben Cousins at the opening bounce.

His hope is to pass those experiences on to a crop of 15-year-olds and, if at least one reaches the AFL, it will have been worth it.

"The participation's probably growing, but the umpires aren't, so it's at that bit of a stalemate," he said. "The difficult challenge for us is the retention.

"I just hope kids can be patient because everyone wants things to happen now. They want to be doing league footy when they're 15 or 16, but that's not going to happen."

Margetts, who will umpire Sunday's clash between Fremantle and Essendon at Patersons Stadium, has backed the centre square bounce to stay despite conceding he generally fluffs one a game.

He also said the introduction of the 120-rotation cap in 2014 hadn't slowed down the game.

"The game I find each year gets five per cent quicker," he said.

"I find it really amusing when people say the game's gone soft.

"I would love the opportunity to take three or four people and say 'just follow me around for 10 minutes and tell me what you think'."

"In three or four years' time, I think every umpire will need to be based in Melbourne.""AFL umpire *Dean Margetts *

The West Australian

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