Umps still bouncing after 500th game

Kailin Sullivan and Mark Pfi tzner celebrate 500 BL&G games with the whistle on Saturday. PHOTO: Supplied

MARK Pfitzner and Kailin Sullivan
both ran out on Saturday
to umpire their 500th Barossa,
Light & Gawler Football Association
games – but they travelled
very different paths to get
Pfitzner is a lifer, having played
under-16s for Eudunda in 1967, in
Walla Walla in 1976, and Hamilton
in 1978 before playing in the
inaugural Barossa District team in
After an injury in 1981 resulted
in contracting Bell’s palsy,
Pfitzner hung up the playing boots
and grabbed a whistle to stay involved
in the game.
Sullivan, on the other hand, was
never drawn to the game as a player,
but decided to take up umpiring
at 10, running the boundary for the
B-grade before getting the allclear
as a field umpire a few years
later, leading to his A-grade debut
at 16.
Pfitzner said his 500 games only
counted from 1997 onwards, and
over the journey he had plenty of
fond memories.
“In 1998, I was invited to become
the umpires’ coach and did
that for two years, as well as developing
an umpires’ handbook
and introducing the beginning of
an umpires’ uniform,” he said.
“A lot has changed since then,
but I continued to enjoy my umpiring
after coaching.
“I was honoured in 2012 with
the Golden Whistle award – a total
surprise – and another surprise
came on my 60th birthday at the
umpires’ presentation night, when
Sam Carter, dressed as a girl,
jumped out of a huge cake.
“To complete 500 games this
week is quite humbling – I don’t
know how many games I have
done overall, but football was
good to me, and I just wanted to
return something to the game.”
Pfitzner said the best team he
ever umpired was the Nuriootpa
Tigers one that won five premierships
between 1995-2000. The
greatest player was Tanunda’s Ian
Trimboli, who led the BL&GFA
in goals in 1994 (91 goals), 1996
(96), 1997 (131) and 1998 (100).
For Sullivan, he has a clear
memory of the standout game of
his umpiring career.
“It was my first A-grade game –
it was match of the round, Gawler
Central versus Willaston – the old
grudge match,” he said.
“It was first against second on
the ladder at the time too, and I
know it went right down to the
wire too.”
Sullivan said the most outstanding
team during his tenure was the
Tanunda side that rattled off four
consecutive flags from 2008-11,
and while he could not pick out a
best player, he said a couple stuck
“I’ve now umpired two generations
of some families – Jake Asher
and his sons at Gawler Central
stand out, given that Jake’s dad
Tim also umpires in the BL&G,”
he said.
“Also a shout-out to the Traynor
boys at Barossa District (Jarrod
and Hayden), who call me ‘Flippers’
due to my size 15 feet.”