Age won’t stop Hal from blowing his whistle

Hal Pearce umpiring an AFL North Coast junior match at Fitzroy Oval. Photo: Green Shoots Marketing

IT doesn’t matter what age you are, Hal Pearce said you’re never too old to be an umpire.

“Give it a go,” Pearce urged.

“I think it can be quite fulfilling and it’s good to see kids playing sport. And if it wasn’t for this I’d have to be doing something else.”

At 74 years of age, Hal returned to the umpiring ranks in 2021 and he’s been umpiring every Sunday across all of the AFL North Coast junior grades and has even joined the Saturday crew a couple of times to officiate in women’s matches.

His return to the umpiring ranks isn’t just extraordinary because he’s a couple of weeks short of another birthday.

“I had chronic fatigue for six years and early this year when I felt good again I thought I better have something to get me back on the horse so I thought why not umpire,” he said.

“It’s not like marathon running where you’re pushed all the time. You can basically go at your own pace.”

When asked why umpiring was a natural fit for him, Hal’s assessment was pretty basic.

“Two reasons and both are because I can,” he said.

“One I know the rules and two I’m lucky enough to have legs that are still working.”

Although he does say there’s one downside to umpiring at his age.

“Older men playing sport is a bit like old cars, a bit more maintenance is required.”

One of the ‘new’ umpire’s favourite aspects of blowing a whistle is getting to work with young umpires taking their first steps as a lime green official.

“There’s a lot of young umpires start at this level and the advantage I have is not only do I umpire but I encourage,” Hal explained.

“If a kid makes a good decision I say ‘great stuff’. I don’t clap or anything but I just tell them ‘that’s great work’ which is probably something you’re unable to do in senior footy.”

Having spent time away from umpiring, Hal said there’s another pleasing part of AFL North Coast footy that he’s discovered.

“I have to say, I umpired in this comp about 10 years ago and even though I haven’t umpired senior games but it’s totally different. The crowds now seem to behave themselves.”

To get into umpiring go to Umpire.AFL and contact Emily Brown, Umpiring Co-ordinator, via