Brian ‘Benny’ Goodman is an astute judge of character and talent.
He umpired 347 senior VAFA games, 17 Big V representative games and has worked as Umpires Advisor, Umpire Operations Manager and General Manager of Umpiring and Football Operations since 2004, placing him in the top echelon of officiating gurus in Australia.
Despite overseeing the progression of a long list of top-tier talent to higher competitions, we can’t help but think Benny may have missed one along the way.
“I’ve never umpired A Grade Amateur football, can you believe that?” soon-to-be four-time AFL Grand Final Field Umpire Simon Meredith jokingly tells VAFA Media.
“I only ever umpired one B Grade game and that was when everyone dropped down to do finals in the lower grades.
“So as an Amateur umpire I was definitely not anywhere near the top of the list that’s for sure.”
Meredith first joined the VAFA Umpires as a 15-year-old, running the boundary with good friend and former Australian Test batsman, Brad Hodge.
After two years and some sage advice from Benny, Meredith moved to the field and never looked back. He carved a sensational career through the U18’s (now TAC Cup), VFL and AFL where he will add to his 2012-14 appearances when he takes the field for the blockbuster finale between the Sydney Swans and Western Bulldogs this weekend.
When reflecting on where it all began, Meredith said he owes a lot to what Benny and the VAFA instilled in him in his days with the Amateurs.
“Benny’s a great teacher, he’s got a great knowledge and what you learn as you go through you probably don’t realise at the time regarding selections,” he said.
“You think coaches are being hard on you but all my coaches have ever wanted is to get the best out of me. I think Benny certainly managed to get the best out me and the proof’s in the pudding with where I’ve got to in my umpiring.”
Despite having completed a hat trick of grand finals in the AFL, Meredith still gets the same buzz he did in 2012.
“It’s more excitement than nerves,” he said.
“The adrenaline will be pumping and I’m just looking forward to the day as well as the week.”
The VAFA congratulates Simon on a fantastic achievement and wish him all the best this weekend.