Rare milestone for football umpire
A Pilbara football umpire marked his 750th league match, after 38 years of service to the game, a rare achievement in the world of country football.
North Pilbara Football League umpire Peter Lynch has been refereeing at country and State level since 1976, with only a three-year break in that time, and umpired his 750th game of league football at Saturday night’s match between the Dampier Sharks and South Hedland Swans. Players and coaches shook Mr Lynch’s hand at the end of the game in acknowledgement of the milestone, which few reach.
Mr Lynch, who turns 61 this week, said he was “very proud” of the achievement and never thought he would still be umpiring all these years later, after transitioning from playing at age 20.
“I started here just wanting to get fit,” he said.
“I wanted to run and I didn’t think after three years as a boundary umpire I’d still be running around this same ground 40 years (later).”
“The transition from field umpire was a big challenge. We went from one, then to two, then to three umpiring systems. The game has changed, the laws have changed, we’ve changed, the demands are greater, but the teamwork and the spirit of the game of football is (the same).”
“It’s got to be a four-quarter performance, and we rely on everyone to be studious, consistent, make changes. Umpires are adaptable.”
Mr Lynch said he was the longest-serving country umpire currently working and “I don’t think that record will soon be broken in this league”.
He chose the 1996 NPFL grand final between Port Hedland and South Hedland as the most memorable game of his umpiring career, after he awarded a late goal that decided the game and “got a grandstand finish”.
He said he did not think umpires got enough acknowledgement for the hard work they put in behind the scenes, but fortunately there were plenty of perks to the job.
“It’s a lot of fun, you meet some great guys, it gets you out on a Friday night, it’s good for fitness,” he said.
“There are little challenges every game, but the minute I stop enjoying it is the minute I’ll give it away.”
He said umpiring was a team effort and the NPFL had a particularly high-standard unit.