RMFL umpire reaches 400 games ahead of appreciation round

One of the more notable men with a whistle in the River Murray Football League, Kym Schenscher, reflects on his career so far.

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River Murray Football League umpire Kym Schenscher - “Snake” to those who know him - had a long and fruitful career as a player.

But not everyone was paying attention, evidently.

Asked about the best sledge he had ever received, he singled out “you’ve never played the game before”.

“I just went through a bit of it and he said ‘fair enough’,” Schenscher said.

Not content with making 394 appearances as a player, he reached 400 games as an umpire last Saturday in the first round back for 2020.

His 17-year career has included 10 league grand finals and five umpire of the year awards, with his biggest highlight being umpiring at the South Australian Country Football Championships.

“To be able to umpire elite footballers is just so easy,” he said.

The claimed honesty of players had been the most challenging experience in his long career, he said.

“No matter how black and white it is, they never do anything wrong,” he said with a chuckle.

For a man who had done everything in football, it didn’t take long to make the transition from player to umpire.

“(After retiring) I went out and watched one game, went home to my wife and said ‘that’s crap, there’s got to be something better I can do,” he said.

There appears to be a game or two left in his legs.

He refused to rule out sticking around to umpire his nine-year-old son when he made it to senior football, although he conceded he would be “pretty old” by that point.

Not that you ever lose your competitive edge as an umpire, as evidenced by the best sledge Schenscher admitted he had dished out.

“There was a guy that had his third goal kicked on him in a quarter and when I was setting his opponent up for another shot for goal I asked him ‘do you know what your problem is?’”

“The guy replied ‘no, what is it, Snake?’”

“I said ‘you’re a grade too high’ and then I backed off.”

This weekend will be Umpires Appreciation Round in the RMFL, recognising the individuals who give up their Saturdays to be in the hottest seat in the house as Tailem Bend hosts Mypolonga, Jervois takes on Ramblers and Imperials head up the river to challenge Mannum.

According to RMFL umpires coach Randall Cocks, the players need to be as thankful as ever in light of recent events.

“What the players need to realise is they should just be thankful they’re getting a game of footy at the moment and be happy with whoever is out there blowing the whistle,” he said.

To assist with football returning locally, the umpiring panel agreed to a “substantial” pay cut for this season.

“We don’t know if any of the clubs know that, but we’ve taken the cut to help them out,” he said.

Numbers have been down in the field umpires’ panel this year, with the boundary umpires’ panel scrapped this season and clubs supplying their own each week.

Cocks said the need remained for umpires to join up, and pointed out that the experience provided a range of benefits to its members.

“It gives a lot of them a social outing, either at the club or down the pub after games,” he said.

“Two or three times a year we have some organised events which gives them a chance to feel a sense of team, and they put something back into the game I think.”

Photo: Kurt Miegel.