AFL WIMMERA-MALLEE and AFL Wimmera-Mallee Umpires have defended the performance of its Horsham District league grand final officials.
AFL Wimmera-Mallee Umpires manager Howard Schier said he believed the umpires officiated at a high standard.
AFL Wimmera-Mallee region general manager Bruce Petering also backed the performance.
Their comments come after Kalkee senior coach Stuart Farr criticised the umpires who officiated the grand final.
He told the Wimmera Mail-Times about 45 minutes after his team’s loss to Harrow-Balmoral that he was disappointed in the standard of the umpiring.
On Tuesday he contacted the Mail-Times to retract those comments.
Mr Schier said the umpiring group upheld a high standard.
“We believe our umpires as a group have performed to a very high standard across the finals series,” Mr Schier said.
“I have received numerous comments in support of this.
“A great story of this finals series has been the promotion through the ranks of 18-year-old Jackson Walsgott. Jackson commenced running the boundary a number of years back and now he has officiated in a senior grand final.
“This is what the program is all about.”
Mr Petering said an enjoyable environment was pivotal in retaining umpires.
“The AFL Wimmera-Mallee commission, management and staff would like to formally register in the public domain their strong support of the Wimmera and district football umpires,” he said.
“Collectively they perform their weekly duties professionally, to the best of their abilities, and to date their performance in this season’s finals has been rated highly.
“Public criticism of umpires is a major factor why people don’t participate in this very important part of the game and a huge factor contributing to umpires discontinuing. An enormous difficulty is retaining umpires in the game.”
Farr said his comments were “untrue and unreasonable”.
“I made negative comments towards the umpires straight after the game and I would like to take them back,” Farr said.
“It was untrue and unreasonable to suggest that. I was in a negative space after the game and in hindsight, I should have calmed down and spoken a couple of hours after the game.
“I would like to apologise for my actions and it doesn’t reflect what I think now. I expect to wear the heat and hopefully we can get past it sooner rather than later.”
Farr reiterated that Harrow-Balmoral was a deserved winner of the premiership and that he crossed the line with his comments.
“Harrow-Balmoral needs full credit – they were the better side on the day and in the season,” he said.
“I was disappointed in the way I coached and I got that message across to the players and the club after the game, and I didn’t mention the umpires to them.
“Umpiring is a tough job and it’s an emotional game and you can get caught up in it. They do a good job and they do cop it undeservedly and unfortunately I was one of those on Saturday.
“They front up each week and travel and train.”
Mr Schier said he welcomed Farr’s retraction.
“We welcome the retraction and apology from Stuart and look forward to a positive relationship with Stuart and the Kalkee Football and Netball Club into the future,” he said.