FRANK Marklew will umpire his 800th game of football this weekend.
He will take the field to officiate the senior Wimmera league clash between the Warrack Eagles and Southern Mallee Giants on Saturday.
Marklew started umpiring after he won Horsham District league reserves premiership with Taylors Lake in 1988. The premiership capped a playing career spanning more than 200 games.
“I took one or two seasons off before umpiring,” he said.
The progression from player to umpire was not natural at first for Marklew who had spent most of his playing day hunting the ball as a rover.
“I used to get too close to the play because I was still trying to get my hands on the footy,” he said.
“As I went on I was coached to stay 20-25 metres away from the play and that way you pick up more of the free kicks.”
The 56-year-old said a lot of past players have difficulty knowing where to position themselves in the early stages of their umpiring careers but they also had invaluable insight into the game.
“If you’ve played the game you know what players go through in terms of frustrations and things like that,” he said.
“It gives you more of a chance to use common sense.
“My philosophy has always been that if you treat players with respect then hopefully they’ll treat you with respect.”
During his time as a whistle-blower Marklew has officiated in nine senior Wimmera league grand final, six senior Horsham District grand finals and a number of interleague clashes.
As a smaller player I had to rely on chopping arms. I wouldn’t get away with that these days.Frank Marklew
He said that the opportunity to umpire interleague matches was always a highlight.
“It’s a chance to umpire elite players from different leagues,” he said.
“Because they’re not players that you umpire each week it presents a different challenge.”
There have been plenty of rule changes that Marklew has had to adjust to since he started.
He said he could understand players being frustrated by some of the limitations that have been placed on them.
“As a smaller player I had to rely on chopping arms,” he said.
“I wouldn’t get away with that these days.”
He said the introduction of a card system with the ability to send players off had been great for the game.
“They’ve helped us control games a lot,” he said.
“The move towards three central umpires as the game has become quicker is also a big plus.
“That keeps some of the older umpires involved and they can help out the younger umpires as well – I like coaching the young ones.”
Marklew said he was looked forward to his 800th game as it should be a good contest.
“It’s going be great with the Giants in the Wimmera league and I can remember umpiring Warrack Eagles in their most recent grand final win in 2002,” he said.