By Michael Roberts | posted on September 3, 2020
GREAT Southern Football League administrators have slammed players and coaches for continuing to disrespect umpires, with officials disappointed a Colts team exited a game early in protest.
Saturday’s match between Railways and Mount Barker was just like any afternoon of country football – a lively crowd, a few scuffles and one team leading by 84-points.
But in a controversial move that stunned spectators at Tigerland, Mt Barker’s Colts Coach suddenly pulled his entire team from the ground with about five minutes left to play.
It is understood the Barker coach was unhappy with the rub of the green from the umpires, amongst other issues.
After a few moments of pause, Railways returned to the field without an opponent as they played out the rest of the match kicking the footy between themselves.
The Tigers opted not to kick any goals as they ran out convincing winners in a bizarre finish to the game.
Condemning Mt Barker’s conduct, GSFL Deputy Chairman Terry Eaton said players and coaches needed to take a hard look at the way they deal with umpiring decisions.
“This league seems to be very ego-centric to attack umpires when things go wrong, instead of coaches and clubs looking within as to how to address these issues,” he said.
“We need to get better.”
Mr Eaton said it was hard enough to attract officials to umpire GSFL games when they were constantly copping abuse.
“It’s a challenge,” he said.
“We’ve lost three or four of our top umpires from last year, which doesn’t help. But we’ve still got half a dozen really good league umpires.
“The best people to umpire are the ones who have played. But you ask them to take a whistle and they say ‘no way, I don’t want to put up with the crap you guys put up with.’
“People say they wouldn’t do it for a $1,000.”
GSFL President Joe Burton said the league was waiting on a response from Mount Barker Football Club before making any judgements on Saturday’s incident.
Mr Burton said he hoped Barker would resolve the issue within their four walls.
The GSFL has recently introduced a fines system where players or club officials will be penalised $250 for umpire abuse on the first offence and $500 for any subsequent of- fences.
Mr Burton said clubs “were all on notice”.
“We’ve laid the law down – any abuse to umpires will result in fines against the players and coaches,” he said.
While umpires have an arsenal of penalties at their disposal, Mr Eaton said it was up to the clubs to change the culture.
“Clubs aren’t very accountable with their actions,” he said.
“If they address it at a club level we can work with it.
“Unfortunately this league is one of the few I’ve ever been to who are so focused on umpiring instead of just getting out there and playing and enjoying the game of football.”
Mount Barker Football Club was contacted multiple times for comment.
Railways Football Club declined to comment.