UMPIRING on the MCG stands out as a highlight in Colac man Ben Tate’s career.
Tate, 31, has become one of the Colac District Football Umpires Association’s most experienced whistle-blowers, and enters his 10th year of senior umpiring this season.
He has umpired more than 200 matches in the Colac district, Geelong, Hampden and Western Border football leagues over the years, but said stepping out onto the MCG was his most valued experience.
“I’ve umpired two Hampden grand finals in front of 15,000 people at Reid Oval which was great,” he said.
“But I did a game in ’09, it was the indigenous game which was the curtain raiser for Essendon and Richmond at the MCG and that was awesome.”
Tate was already umpiring junior games before he umpired his first senior game as a 21-year-old.
His father Robbie Tate, who has umpired more than 100 Colac district matches, introduced him to umpiring.
“I started in the Colac league, I was playing ressies at Imps and back then they had a pretty good ressies side but I was a bit too little to play footy, so I started umpiring,” he said.
“Back then I was already umpiring under-14s and 16s on the Sunday, then I started senior umpiring when I was 21.”
Tate said a mixture of the fitness and mateship had kept him involved for the past decade.
“It’s mostly the fitness that has kept me involved, but I also enjoy the challenge of trying to keep the focus on the footy and staying switched on,” he said.
“I suggest umpiring to other people, once they get involved they realise they’re umpiring as a team, and umpiring with one of your mates is one of the best parts.”