By Sam Watson

ONE of the most iconic figures in Gippsland football, Scott Wilson, brought up his 400th game with the South Gippsland Umpires Association on Saturday.

The field umpire, commonly known as ‘Flat-top’ for his unique hairstyle, umpired his 399th game when Kilcunda Bass took on Cora Lynn over a month ago.

But the recent lockdown meant Wilson, who’s now in his mid-50s, would have to wait a few weeks before reaching the 400 milestone.

And he did so in the powerhouse clash between Phillip Island and Tooradin Dalmore.

While local footballers may know him for his tendency to pay 50 metre penalties, his umpiring peers know him as the ‘Third quarter specialist,’ as he always likes to do the ball-up at the start of the second half.

But there’s another side to the umpiring icon that many may not know about.

As a player for St Kilda City in the Southern Football Netball League and for Box Hill in the Victorian Football Association, Wilson won one premiership.

And the thrill he got from winning that premiership made him want to find a way to give back to the game that had given him so much.

So, he decided the best way to stay involved with football and more grand finals would be to take up umpiring.

He joined the SGUA in 2005 and hasn’t looked back since.

But his love for footy runs a bit deeper than just grand finals.

“If it wasn’t for footy, goodness knows where I would’ve been,” Wilson said.

“I was so grateful for what it gave me, so it was only right to help give a bit back.”

One of the joys he gets out of umpiring and being involved with the footballing fraternity is seeing young people develop.

“I love the development of all people, whether that be seeing under 16s and 18s improve and eventually earn a senior spot or seeing a young boundary umpire eventually make it to a senior field umpire,” Wilson said.

“I love watching kids become good footballers and it’s the same with umpires.”

And he cherishes the bond he has with his umpiring cohort.

“Every time I walk out onto a ground on a Saturday, I’m doing it with some of my best mates,” Wilson said.

“We feel like our own little footy team.”

“It doesn’t matter if we go out to do the under 18s or the seniors, I enjoy it just as much either way because I’m with my mates.”

And although he has some memorable highlights, like umpiring the 2016 Alberton senior grand final between Fish Creek and Inverloch-Kongwak, and Paul ‘Noddy’ Ware’s 500th game for Dalyston, his main highlight is having the chance to walk out on the field every Saturday.

Wilson, who is the closest thing we have to ‘Razor’ Ray Chamberlain, said he doesn’t like the limelight, but he did admit people may think he does.

“I might seem like I enjoy a bit of attention, but I definitely don’t, I actually get a bit embarrassed,” Wilson said.

“I just love being around the people involved with footy.”

‘Flat-top’ isn’t the only name Wilson’s been called from over the fence, but he wears his nickname with pride, and although he said he’s starting to slow down, it seems like he’s got a few more 50 metre penalties left in him yet.

His journey to 500 games will start tomorrow with Cora Lynn vs Korumburra Bena.