Warrnambool and District Football Umpires Association's three grand final debutants

BIG STAGE: Jamie Lake, Trent Handreck, Anthony Malone, James Rea and Casey O'Keefe will officiate the Hampden grand final. Picture: Rob Gunstone

BIG STAGE: Jamie Lake, Trent Handreck, Anthony Malone, James Rea and Casey O'Keefe will officiate the Hampden grand final. Picture: Rob Gunstone

A PAIR of teenage boundary umpires and a goal umpire who followed his children’s path are preparing for their Hampden league senior grand final debuts.

James Rea, 16, and Trent Handreck, 15, will clock up to 14 kilometres running the boundary during the North Warrnambool Eagles-Koroit clash at Reid Oval on Saturday.

Anthony Malone will settle in behind the goals, almost five years after taking up the white flags.

They will be joined by Warrnambool and District Football Umpires Association teammates – central umpires Jamie Lake and Casey O’Keefe – on the big stage.

The experienced Lake and O’Keefe have umpired a combined 15 Hampden league top-grade deciders.

Umpires from Colac and Western District associations will also have representatives across the seniors, reserves and under 18.5 grades.

Handreck, who goes to Warrnambool College, said he was excited to earn a call-up in just his second year as an umpire.

“A friend from school said he joined and enjoyed it, so I decided to come,” he said of his pathway to the grand final.

“I used to play at Allansford. I got injured at the start of the year, so I dropped footy.

“I prefer umpiring at the moment. 

“It’s the same level of running and just as fun.”

Rea started umpiring six years ago and is preparing for his second senior grand final, having represented the association in the 2014 Warrnambool and District league decider.

The Emmanuel College student was injured last year, robbing him of a chance to make a September appearance.

He played AusKick before making a switch to umpiring.

Malone said he was excited to be part of the major league’s finale.

“I’ve been a goal umpire for four and half years; I’ve done the past three Warrnambool and District league grand finals and this is my first Hampden seniors,” he said.

“I don’t get too nervous. The big crowd will be interesting, just to see how that plays on the mind but I am looking forward to it.”

Malone stepped into umpiring after watching his children work their way through the ranks.

“We used to come along and watch the kids,” he said.

“They were short of goal umpires one year and I said ‘if you can show me enough not to look silly, I’ll give you a hand’ and five years later, here I am.”

Michael Soulsby, Lachy Mahony, David Dunn (reserves) and Nigel Pedler, Mick Lowther, Damian O’Connor, Nicholas Bellman and Ashley Jennings (under 18.5) will also represent Warrnambool and District Football Umpires Association on Saturday. 

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