Gary Hamilton joined an exclusive group as he umpired his 1000th match on the weekend.
There is less than 10 Ballarat Football League umpires who have notched up the milestone and while many of his matches were from his Hamilton days, it remains a great feat.
Hamilton has done it all. Starting as a 13-year-old on the boundary line, he then officiated some 600 matches as a central umpire before moving into goal umpiring in 2009.
The 56-year-old umpired 820 of his matches in Hamilton before moving to Ballarat for work eight years ago.
Hamilton said he originally got into umpiring because it was the only way he and his brothers could be involved in the game.
“We weren’t allowed to play footy, we were smaller guys and Dad didn’t believe in the contact,” Hamilton said.
“To be involved with the umpires, the only way I could go and watch footy was to go and umpire.”
Hamilton was pleased to bring up the milestone as he stood in the goals for the Melton South and Darley clash. He paid tribute to his late father, who was also an umpire and a huge influence on Hamilton, and said being involved with umpiring had given him plenty of enjoyable times.
“I’m very impressed, I wish my Dad was still here, he passed away two years ago unfortunately.
“Dad encouraged us to get into the centre, he said that’s where all the action is, it’s the best part – and you do, it’s the best part.”
Two moments stand out for Hamilton. Umpiring the 1983 South West District grand final, a huge bump was laid at the first bounce which started a melee which ended up involving a large number of spectators. While his first game in Ballarat ended in a draw.
“I think I had seven reports that day...it was a tough game – that really stood out by a country mile.”
Fellow umpires Julian Pinder and Michael Toner brought up their 450th and 300th games respectively on the weekend.