Umpires vow to improve performance after match-winning free-kick decision was incorrect

A still from the controversial play call on Saturday, which cost North Warrnambool Eagles the game. Footage courtesy of Kevin Coulson.
A still from the controversial play call on Saturday, which cost North Warrnambool Eagles the game. Footage courtesy of Kevin Coulson.

UMPIRES boss Arno Pennings concedes a free-kick that led to Port Fairy’s match-winning goal against North Warrnambool Eagles was incorrect.

VIDEO: Watch the play and botched call here.

Pennings, who will review the decision and others with central umpire Leigh McNaughton at training tonight, said the emerging whistle-blower should not be criticised.

“By the looks of the video, it’s an incorrect decision,” he said. “But I want to talk to the umpire first about it.

“One decision doesn’t determine a game of footy. You have to look at the four quarters.”

Pennings said a Port Fairy player may have partially obscured the umpire’s view but he needed to sit down with him and hear his explanation.

“It’s not a witch-hunt, it’s a learning curve,” he said.

Pennings, who watched the video on The Standard’s website yesterday, said he would obtain a DVD of the game and use it to help educate fellow umpires.

He said the Warrnambool and District Football Umpires’ Association had observers at matches assessing umpires and where videos of games were available, they used them to help educate officials.

“In the Port Fairy/North Warrnambool game there are a couple of other decisions I would like to look at. I would like to get a copy of it.”

Pennings said the association, which needs more umpires, had to keep elevating talented individuals to ensure they gained adequate experience at major league level because its core group of senior umpires was ageing.

“If we don’t keep promoting some of these umpires, we won’t have umpires to umpire at the higher level.”

Pennings said the association’s big challenge was to ensure consistency between veterans and those stepping up to join them.

He said McNaughton, who umpired about half-a-dozen Hampden league senior games last year, had officiated in the Mininera versus Golden Rivers interleague match before Saturday’s Port Fairy and North Warrnambool Eagles clash.

“He’s an experienced senior umpire but it’s his first game in the Hampden league this season,” he said.

“You can’t judge a performance on one decision. If there is a number of other things then we have to look at them.

“We have to sit down and go through the process and talk to him and work out what’s the best move for his development.”

North Warrnambool Eagles coach Bernard Moloney said his side had moved on from the game and was looking to rebound against Hamilton Kangaroos on Saturday.

“The great Norm Smith once said if you get in a situation where an umpiring decision determines the game it’s your own fault,” he said.

“We didn’t play well and Port Fairy did.

“We fought back really well. It was a bad kick out from our backline that created (Port Fairy’s) opportunity. We have more to worry about than an umpire’s decision. I’m not running with that at all.”