By Sam Watson
FORMER Leongatha local Matt Stevic has again cemented himself as one of the best umpires in the AFL, scoring his ninth grand final selection in 10 seasons.
After another stellar season with the whistle, Stevic will go about his business on the biggest stage when the Demons take on the Dogs on Saturday.
The 41-year-old’s AFL umpiring debut came in round one, 2004, when the Western Bulldogs took on the West Coast Eagles at the then Telstra Dome.
His first grand final berth came in 2012 when the Swans knocked off the Hawks.
He missed out in 2013, but he has umpired in every grand final since.
In his near 17-year career, Stevic’s umpired 426 AFL games and he now holds the record for most finals umpired in VFL/AFL history with 48.
Brett Rosebury, who has umpired three grand finals with Stevic, is the next closest on 46.
Rosebury will also umpire his ninth grand final on Saturday.
After Saturday, only Jack Elder, who umpired between 1906 and 1922, will have umpired in more grand finals than Stevic and Rosebury.
Stevic is only 41, as is Rosebury, so there’s a high chance one of those men will be the new grand final record holder in a few years.
Stevic faced arguably the biggest challenge of his career at the start of the 2021 finals series, when he had to provide evidence at a tribunal hearing for GWS superstar Toby Greene.
At the three-quarter time break, Greene bumped Stevic as he was walking to the huddle, causing outrage amongst the football world.
Despite Stevic’s statement in support of Greene, the 27-year-old was hit with a three-week ban, missing his side’s semi-final loss to Geelong.
The South Gippsland Umpires Association took to Facebook to congratulate Stevic on his achievement.
Stevic has come back to where he started his career multiple times to give our young umpires a few pointers.