WIMMERA umpires Maurie Rudolph and Jackson Walsgott will run Horsham District league grand finals at City Oval in Horsham come Saturday.
The day will mark two vastly different milestones for the two umpires – it will be Rudolph’s 1100th game and Walsgott’s first senior grand final.
Rudolph will umpire the under-17s grand final between Noradjuha-Quantong and Pimpinio.
“I just love the game, the fitness and the people we mix with every Saturday, it’s just great,” he said.
“I’ve done quite a few grand finals. It’s always nice to get a close game that goes down to the wire. I was doing one a few years ago that was a 102-point ball game.”
Rudolph umpired his 1000th game in May of 2015 and said he had no plans of stopping any time soon.
“A lot of people would probably say I should have stopped long ago,” he said.
“I retired from my day job with the council last year, so I’ll keep going. It keeps me busy. I was at council for 41 years so whatever I do, I don’t take it lightly.”
It is believed Rudolph holds the record for number of games umpired by a Wimmera official.
For Walsgott, who is about to complete year 12, Saturday’s senior grand final between Harrow-Balmoral and Kalkee will pose a new set of challenges for the young official.
“I’m a little bit nervous but I think I’ll be alright,” he said.
“I think having a big crowd helps you. It puts a bit of pressure on you to make better decisions.
“It will be good. I’ve only umpired Kalkee once and haven’t umpired Harrow-Balmoral before, so they are new teams for me.”
Rudolph agreed, and said an umpire performs better on the big stage.
“Last week I umpired the game at Dimboola between Ararat and Horsham Saints and it was a close game all day,” he said.
“You umpire at your best when it’s close because you don’t lose interest. You don’t go to sleep or make mistakes.
“Jackson and I umpired together in the last home and away round. It was between Stawell and Minyip-Murtoa and it was a one-point win to Stawell. We had a really good game together.
“I was 22 when I started, so Jackson has a head start on me for his age.”
Walsgott and Rudolph also umpired together in a junior grand final last season. Walsgott said it was great to learn from people like Rudolph.
“It’s great to run with someone who has a bit of experience. You get tips and feedback throughout,” he said.
“I started doing the boundary umpiring when I was 12 and three years ago did my first field game. I have probably done about 40 games now and Maurie and I did the under-17s grand final last season.”
Walsgott isn’t sure where he will be umpiring next season after he finishes school, but the promising young umpire has nominated to trial with the Victorian Football League umpires.