By Nathan Johnston
PAUL Carter is known among footballers across Gippsland for engaging in some friendly banter out in the middle.
When he cops a spray from a player, his signature reply is; “Why don’t you take up umpiring – you can’t play footy for sh**!”
“I have a few little sayings. The players who know me know that I’ll give a bit back. We have a beer afterwards and it’s all good.”
Carter has been doing it for 500 games now.
His milestone match was at Stony Creek on Saturday when the Lions hosted Toora.
He took up the whistle as a boundary umpire on Alistair Hillis’ advice.
He’d played a couple of years of junior footy for Leongatha and his teammates back then would recall his uncanny knack to kick freakish goals. A mad Magpie fan, he had tricks like Daicos.
After a couple of years running the boundary, he took up field umpiring, before resuming his playing career with Fish Creek and MDU in the reserves.
He’s the first to admit he wasn’t a superstar and was happy to return to umpiring in the late 90s.
He umpired alongside Leongatha’s Matt Stevic who chalked up his 300th AFL game at the weekend.
“He’s an amazing athlete. He was very fast and a good bouncer. When I was 18, I enjoyed beer.
“I would have had to run for four years to get to that level which was not my cup of tea.”
Carter’s one of the best in the business locally though.
He’s umpired 11 senior grand finals – nine Alberton, one Gippsland and one West Gippsland.
He recalls the Fish Creek v Wonthaggi grand finals in Alberton and Sale v Maffra grand final as brutal contests that were hard to control but rewarding just the same.
Carter has no plans to retire. His son Max is a gun little footballer but has already said he wants to take up umpiring one day too.
“I’d love to hang in there and umpire with Max running the boundary.”