River Murray footy umpire reaches milestone 600th game
As Mick Nottle hits yet another milestone in his umpiring career, he reflects on his time in the sport and what he loves most about his role.
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This weekend, Mick Nottle will umpire his 600th football game – no mean feat.
A senior field officer for the local council by day, Mr Nottle said his love for footy over the years had been unfailing, and so umpiring had been a natural progression for him.
“You get to a point as a player where you can’t take the physical contact anymore due to wear and tear, but might get another 20-30 years out of you through umpiring,” he said.
“I love being involved on the field … as an umpire, you’ve got the best seat in the house, you’re right in the thick of it.
“Its good exercise, you’re well paid and you’re doing something you love – what more can you want?”
Mr Nottle began umpiring for the River Murray Football League in the 1990s.
Over that time, he said, the social aspect of the role was what he had treasured most.
“There have been so many highlights over the years, but the biggest one is the camaraderie and friendship … you are brought together with all these people over a common interest,” he said.
“Because I’m not technically a part of any club, I make connections with people from everywhere.”
If you’re after a breakdown of Mr Nottle’s 600 games, here are some statistics for you:
379 league games
99 reserve games
70 under 17/18 games
52 under 15/16 games
Twenty of those games were grand finals.
And those are just the numbers related to his umpiring.
Born at Karoonda, Mr Nottle played 207 games for United Football Club, and then coached for two years.
Upon moving to Murray Bridge he played 63 games for Imperials.
He won best and fairest awards as a player four times, and an umpire of the year award in 2003.
So, with all that history, how does Mr Nottle stay neutral in the heat of a match?
“Once you cross that white line, you’re an umpire … you divorce yourself from any club affiliations,” he said.
“You go out there, and you call it as you see it; sometimes you make mistakes, but we all do.
“It’s about having enough integrity to do a good job.”
Although he admitted he had had to keep his ego in check over the past week, Mr Nottle said the number of games he’d umpired was ultimately irrelevant.
“You don’t do something for the milestone number, you do it because you love doing it.”
You can catch Mr Nottle at his 599th game on Saturday at Johnstone Park – the 9am under-14s match between Imperials and Tailem Bend – or his 600th game at Le Messurier Oval at 10am on Sunday – the under 16s match between Mypolonga and Jervois.