Three NEAFL umpires will have the opportunity to join the elite ranks following their appointment to the senior AFL umpire panel for 2020.
AFL NSW/ACT’s David Wood (boundary) and AFL Queensland duo Matt Bridges and Jesse Baird (goal) were promoted to the AFL list on Friday.
All three officials were named as NEAFL Umpires of the Year in their respective states and disciplines, as well as being selected in the 2019 NEAFL Grand Final panel.
AFL Queensland State Umpiring Manager James Waldorff told aflq.com.au the pair’s appointment is their reward for countless seasons of dedication to their craft.
“We are pleased with the rise to success of both Jesse and Matthew and look forward to seeing their further progression at AFL level,” he said.
“Their quick development under the watchful eye of state and NEAFL goal umpire coach Garry Downes, along with their own dedication to their craft, has helped prepare them for this opportunity.”
Baird has umpired 22 NEAFL games but he has officiated the AFL Grand Final curtain raiser at the MCG and also the NAB AFL Under 18 National Championships.
Bridges has officiated 59 NEAFL games and was named NEAFL Goal Umpire of the Year in 2017, where he was also named in the 2017 NEAFL Grand Final umpiring panel at the SCG played between the Sydney Swans and Brisbane.
In that same 2017 season, he officiated the NAB AFL Under 18 National Championships and this year, was named as a goal umpire for the AFL Women’s Grand Final at Adelaide Oval.
Wood has officiated 42 NEAFL games, including the 2018 and 2019 NEAFL Grand Finals, and was awarded AFL NSW/ACT’s Best Boundary Umpire at NEAFL level for the second time earlier this year.
State Umpiring Manager for NSW/ACT, Pierce Field told aflnswact.com.au Wood’s achievement is fantastic news for umpiring in New South Wales and the ACT.
“David’s elevation to the AFL list is a result of his hard work and dedication,” says Field.
“After recommencing umpiring in AFL Sydney in 2017, David has made a remarkable progression in only three seasons.
“This is just another example of what the NSW/ACT Umpire Talent Pathway can produce via the NEAFL competition.”
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