Former Warrnambool umpire Shaun Ryan to umpire 300th AFL match in Geelong-Hawthorn blockbuster

Big game: Former Warrnambool umpire Shaun Ryan will umpire his 300th AFL match in Saturday's blockbuster between Geelong and Hawthorn at the MCG.
Big game: Former Warrnambool umpire Shaun Ryan will umpire his 300th AFL match in Saturday's blockbuster between Geelong and Hawthorn at the MCG.

Former Warrnambool umpire Shaun Ryan says quality not quantity is his focus as he approaches his 300th AFL match on Saturday.

The Geelong-Hawthorn blockbuster at the MCG is the setting for his milestone.

"It’s not so much the number, because I have always thought the number of games is just a number,” he said.

"I'd probably like to be known for and remembered for being consistent.

"I think it is more about the quality of those games and that you were consistent in most and went about your business with not much fuss.”

But don’t confuse his “not much fuss” comment with the general perception that umpires are doing their job best if they go unnoticed.

The six-time grand final umpire, who celebrated his 43rd birthday on Thursday, said he did not agree. “Much of the attention is from what the game offers up,” he said

“You might have to pay a free kick in the dying seconds and if it is there, then there is nothing you could do to control it.

“It’s in terms of how you approach it and go about it.

“You need to realise people are there to watch the game and the spectacle, but you need to intervene when needed.

“And that might mean playing free kicks that are warranted and sometimes you have to pay tough free kicks.”

It seemed Ryan had umpired his last AFL match when he hung up his whistle at the end of 2011, before being persuaded into making a comeback in 2015.

He now joins a select group of umpires in the 300 club.

"It is not a box I thought I would ever tick, so it’s a nice feeling to get there,” he said.

"When I retired I was on maybe 215 games, so I was still a fair way away from 300. So I didn't regret not having achieved it when I retired at all because I was so far away.

"Umpiring 300 pre-season and home and away games means life membership, so that was something that I thought would have been nice to achieve and I got that last year which was a nice bonus."