Umpire chalks up 1600 games

Flashback: Ollie Matthews with then star Romsey player Mitchell Jensen – with Diggers Rest this season – on the occasion of his 1500th game.

Umpires have been in the news at various levels of football and netball this season, and there’s one whose record in the Riddell League may never be beaten.

It was the ‘Community Football Umpires’ special round on the weekend, and congratulations have been flooding in to mark Alan ‘Ollie’ Matthews chalking up 1600 matches as an umpire.

Matthews, one of the best known personalities in the league, was league president for 18 years and a board member for 24, and his love of the game is seen by many as unparalleled.

He received the name ‘Ollie’ at primary school and it has stuck. Very few people call him Alan.

Keen on football, he played more than 200 senior games with Craigieburn and Wallan, but an accident when a motorcycle ploughed into his car near Essendon Airport resulted in a premature end to his playing career.

Matthews’ father was an umpire, and an umpires’ advisor, and he decided he wanted to stay involved in football.

From being involved solely as a field umpire, he eventually took up goal umpiring.

Doing two or three matches (seniors and juniors) a weekend boosted his numbers, and he has seen many changes to grassroots football over the decades.

He’s proud to have officiated in numerous senior and junior grand finals.

Matthews encourages young people, and former players, to take up umpiring.

Now in his early 70s, he sees umpiring as beneficial from a fitness viewpoint, and it can also help in later career paths.

“I love it, it’s in my blood and I’ve made so many friends,” he said back in June 2019 when he chalked up the 1500 games milestone, not making any predictions about when he would finally retire from umpiring.

Three years later he’s still going, and the best wishes continue to flow in.

Well done, Ollie!

NOTE: The Riddell Umpires Association is pleased to hear from potential umpires, boundary, goal or field.

President Addam Icely is pleased it appears (finally) there will be a full completed season ahead, with more opportunities for umpires to ‘have a go’.