Ballarat umpire Shane McInerney is set to make history when he takes to the Marvel Stadium field on Saturday evening as the Western Bulldogs and Geelong Cats clash in his 496th game umpiring in the AFL.
The umpire will eclipse AFL umpires head coach Hayden Kennedy previous record of 495 games umpired in the Saturday night game.
The former St Patrick's College student got his start officiating across the region after joining the BFUA in 1989.
McInerney pursued an early playing career with St Pat's and Ballarat YCW, mostly off a half-back flank.
"In the end it (playing) wasn't really my bag, but I enjoyed running. I had a mate who was umpiring and there was 30 bucks a game in it which I thought was better than getting it for stacking supermarket shelves . . . so I thought 'Let's have a go'," McInerney told Carlton Blues media.
He spent two years on a state cadet squad and was promoted to the senior AFL list in 1993, a season in which he was one of two umpires to not get a senior game.
His persistence and hard work was rewarded in 1994 with his senior debut - Carlton v Sydney at Princes Park.
He cannot remember much about the game, except the speed and an instinct to go with his gut feeling - and the game has become much quicker since then.
"The only thing I remember of that game was thinking 'Gee, this is fast, I can't think this through, I'll have to go on my gut feel and react to it."
I have no memory of the first bounce... it means I must have bounced the ball straightShane McInerney
Fast forwarding to 2019, the 48-year-old McInerney is showing no signs of slowing down despite boasting the impressive accolades of umpiring two grand finals and two international rules series.
Looking over his time on the field, McInerney said wiring umpires for sound was perhaps the most significant change.
"When I think back to the first three or four years, I was more worried about what my comeback might be to a player who told me I was no good.
"Players wanted to see how you responded to the comment 'That was a **** decision, you'll be in the bush next week' because that would then determine how you responded - and if they thought they'd got you they'd be into you.
"I've seen umpires who weren't able to cope with that - good umpires lost along the way. So when microphones came in, it meant everyone had to lift their standards."
Speaking about the breaking the record itself, McInerney said it's a touch subject as it is his coaches record he is breaking.
He however conceded that he couldn't have a more supportive person than Hayden Kennedy behind him ahead of the milestone game.
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