Warwick’s 600th game Saturday

By Robert Muir

Highly respected Australian Rules Football field umpire Warwick Henderson of Yarrawonga turned 54-years-of-age on Monday but more importantly will chalk up his 600th game this Saturday – when Albury hosts Myrtleford.

“Warwick’s highly respected by the entire football community. He’s well known and has been the clear standard on how to umpire the game,” fellow umpire this Saturday and veteran of 320 games, 57-year-old Dave Ryan told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.

“It’s an outstanding effort to have run out at senior level and he is one of the umpires who guided me when I arrived 15 years ago to umpire.

“I was fortunate enough to have umpired my first senior O and M grand-final with him (in the mid-2000s).”

Henderson has umpired a total of 330 O&M games:  74 seniors 74, 45 seconds 45, 35 thirds and 46 juniors, with the Albury Umpires League, Wangaratta Umpires, Wagga Wagga League, travelling as far as away in matches such as in the Griffith, Temora and Shepparton Leagues.

The Yarrawonga Chronicle put many questions to Henderson and his responses follow.

YC: Did you ever play footy and if so, which positions? 

WH: Junior footy for Rutherglen – on the ball, O&M Thirds – wing, Coreen League Thirds – wing, Coreen League Seconds – everywhere, Coreen League Seniors – half back flank/wing. (Premierships in all grades in Coreen League).

YC: Why did you get into umpiring? When did you start? 

WH: Had enough playing and needed a change.  So I decided to give it a try when an umpire in the pub after a game one day convinced me – never looked back from there, also got paid ….ha ha ha. Started in 1992/1993.

YC: What do find so appealing about field umpiring?

WH: Still able to be a part of the game, keeping fit, like knowing the rules and getting to know the players.

YC: How much training do you do? 

WH: Train two nights a week, sometimes three:  Tuesday (running, road cycling, spin bike class), Thursday (light training, lectures, game reviews).

YC: How many of your games would you have been sole field umpire, dual umpire and three-umpire?   

WH: Single – 60, dual – 350, three ump – 150.

YC: What have been the highlights?

WH: Four-times Umpire of The Year – Wangaratta Umpires League, three-times Umpire of The Year – O&M League;  Life Member – Wangaratta Umpires League. Achieving my milestones.

YC: Funny moments?

WH: Seeing Fev (Brendan Fevola) trying to kick the ball off the ground and falling over, completely missing it.

YC: How many grand-finals/which leagues?

WH: My first O&M Grand Final of the Reserves in 1994 with the opening bounce held at Lavington.  All of my grand-final appointments especially the seven O&M senior GFs.

Numerous finals – Qualifying x 2 Hume, Elimination x 1 Ovens & King, First Semi x 1 Upper Murray, Second Semi x 2 O&M Reserves, Preliminary Final – 1 x Benalla & District.

YC: What is the record O and M grand-finals and by whom?

WH: Eight seniors O&M Grand Final by Jason Dudenas, an All Australian Umpire.

YC: What is/has been your occupation/organisations?

WH: Greenkeeper for 30 years.

YC: How long have you lived in Yarrawonga? Where beforehand?

WH: Moved to Yarrawonga at the end of 1996 from Rutherglen where I grew up.

YC: Your other interests/marital status/family?

WH: Fishing, shooting, camping, married to Tracey, children – Ashleigh, David and Jeremy, grandchildren (belonging to daughter Ashleigh and son-in-law Daniel McKee) – Emilie, Oliver & Harry; dogs – Jake, Archie, Coop and Max.”

The much-decorated field umpire said he “can’t wait” for the huge milestone game, admitting

“It’s a big achievement.” But Warwick has a message, particularly for those who have played football. ” We need more retired football players to take the game up and get involved, also we need a higher pay rate, especially in finals, for all grades,” he concluded.