Rea gets call up to footy’s spiritual home

THROW IN: Warrnambool-based teen umpire James Rea will run the boundary at the MCG for a community championships clash this Saturday. Picture: Rob Gunstone
THROW IN: Warrnambool-based teen umpire James Rea will run the boundary at the MCG for a community championships clash this Saturday. Picture: Rob Gunstone

HARD work and dedication have paid off for Warrnambool teenager James Rea, who has been called up to umpire at Saturday’s AFL Victoria community championships’ top match.

The Warrnambool and District Football Umpires Association member will run the boundary at the game between the Geelong and Mornington Peninsula Nepean leagues on the hallowed turf of the MCG.

“It’ll be exciting,” James said. “It’ll be a bit of fun and different, I guess, running out on the MCG.”

The 16-year-old umpired at last year’s senior interleague clash between Hampden and Ovens and Murray, and has also officiated at the under 16 V/Line Cup and championships the past two years, plying his trade on Simonds Stadium and Queen Elizabeth Oval.

James, an Emmanuel College student, said he was taking his selection to officiate higher-level games in his stride, with an open mind about where his umpiring could take him.

“Starting to do higher-calibre games, I could aim for the VFL. It would be good, and I guess the AFL (is a possibility after that),” he said.

WDFUA president Jono Ryan lauded James’ dedication and commitment to his umpiring, noting his athleticism and height were also valuable assets.

A host of WDFUA umpires will officiate the Warrnambool and District matches against Maryborough Castlemaine, with Jamie Lake, Steve Walker, Casey O’Keefe, Hayley Walker and Pat Nolan selected for the seniors, while  Nathan Hoy, Gavin Sell, Lachan Rooke, and John Maddock were selected for the under 18s, at Reid Oval.