MATT Stevic, formerly of Leongatha, capped off a fine year with the whistle by being named the AFL All-Australian field umpire for the third consecutive year.
The award was Stevic’s fourth in five years and he joined umpire Brett Allen as the most capped All-Australian.
The 36-year-old had the honour of bouncing the ball at the start of the grand final and said it’s always a thrill to be involved in the biggest game of the year.
“The crowd, excitement and noise was pretty deafening at times and the game was pretty close most of the time, so it was pretty intense and hard work for 120 minutes,” he said.
“Along with the Hawthorn v Sydney 2012 game, it was probably as tough and as close.
“Every game you umpire, there always a few things you could do a bit better or do differently next time but that’s part and parcel of the incredibly challenging job you get faced with each week,.
“You’re never perfect. The game itself was a fantastic,
tough game.”
Stevic umpired his 300th game in round 22 at the MCG and has come a long way since he began umpiring as a 12-year-old with the West Gippsland Umpires Association.
He said the friendships he has made throughout the journey were the highlight of his career.
“Teammates who you become very close with are one of the reasons that keep you going because it is a very challenging and stressful job most of the time,” he said.
“Being involved in a great sport and being privileged to umpire all around Australia is something that I really enjoy.”
Stevic will continue to blow the whistle at AFL level next season and is looking forward to a much-needed holiday in Bali with family over the next two weeks.