Well what a day Melbourne put on for round 1. A beautiful autumn day that had crowds out enjoying the sunshine, fast tracks to run on, field and boundary umpires complaining about the heat (we’ll forget these days in the middle of July when we’re battling icy rain and mud) and the rare sight of goal umpires in short sleeve shirts. Yes it really was a fitting day for the first round of what promises to be another fantastic VAFA season.
Last week, we looked at the career of Steve McCarthy, this week we’re looking at the legend that is Russell Davidson (Photo).
Despite it being only round 2, it’s important to note that there will be something very different about the last match of the VAFA season this year, as the man who has officiated in in 7 of the last 8 Premier Grand Finals, won’t be there.
Rusty is one of the most highly credentialed umpires to have blown the whistle in the Ammos, having been on the AFL list and also umpiring a VFL Grand Final. He really is one of the greats to blow the whistle here.
Starting in the SW Gippsland Juniors in 1987, he moved to the Southern Football League in 1988 where he stayed until 1990 when selected to join the VFL/AFL. From 1991-2000 Rusty chalked up 106 VFA/VFL games, 48 AFL Reserves games and even wore the tracksuit as emergency umpire in the AFL on a few occasions.
A true umpire of merit, he took out the John Russo trophy in 1997.
Rusty started giving back to umpiring in 2002, when he was coach of the VFL Umpires Academy, a role he fulfilled until 2004.
Season 2005 saw the VAFA get lucky, when Russell chose us as the league in which to continue his umpiring and it was here, that the legend was formed. In 10 seasons in the Amateurs, Russell umpired senior grand finals in all of them. What makes this achievement even more outstanding, is that 7 of those were the Premier Grand Final, add to that a Premier B, Premier C and a Division 1 Grand Final and his record speaks for itself.
But of course, he isn’t finished there. A 12 timer representative umpire, including a trip to NZ and the 2011 AAFC carnival where he was selected as the AAFC representative umpire, and finally twice being selected as VAFA Umpire of the Year, in 2006 and his final year of 2014.
Off field Rusty was a tireless worker for the VAFAUA, serving as President of the Association in 2009 and 2010 and co-ordinating the famous Pre-Finals dinner from 2009-2014. Fittingly Russell is also a Life Member of the VAFAUA.
So with his whistle hung up, Rusty is taking a well-earned break and is training for Iron Man Melbourne 2016!
So Rusty, from everyone at the VAFA and the VAFAUA, thank you for what you have given us. You have been a true servant of the game and have left a legacy that will live a long time, in fact it is doubtful that anyone will be able to match your 7 Premier Grand Final appearances.
Russell Davidson, you are in every sense, a legend of the VAFUA.
This week, Ian “Horse” Clydesdale takes charge of his 100th VAFA match and his 200th overall, having previously umpired in Sydney, Southern Football League, SW Gippsland FL and MPNFL. Obviously Horse has found his home with the VAFAUA as it is the longest he’s stayed in any league! Well Done