Local Legends: 14yo Archie does it all

From volunteering to umpiring, playing or just cheering on his club, Archie Underwood does it all in footy.

At the tender age of 14, Archie Underwood has contributed more to his local football league than many people do in a lifetime. Archie is a current member of the Geelong Football Umpires League and an under 14s player at the Portarlington Demons Football Netball Club within the Bellarine Football Netball League (BFNL).

On game day, you will find him doing one of the following: volunteering in the canteen, goal umpiring for his younger brothers’ teams, timekeeping for the Reserves, controlling the electronic scoreboard, running water for teams at any opportunity, assisting at Auskick or one of his favourite roles, boundary umpiring for the Seniors. If that’s not enough, he can also be found cheering loud and proud at the neighbouring netball courts, with his passion for the Portarlington community extending beyond his love for football.

Archie’s pathway to umpiring the Seniors’ games perfectly encapsulates the type of person he is. As an under 12s player, Archie went straight from playing his own game that morning to running the boundary for the Reserves while his dad was field umpire. Before heading home for the day, Archie noticed that the Seniors’ game was one boundary umpire short and put his hand up to fill in and run a third game for the day. At only 11 years old, Archie caught the eye of the Head of the Geelong Football Umpires League, who at the time was the field umpire for the Seniors game. Archie was invited to umpire training the following week and he has been umpiring Seniors games ever since.

Despite his young age, Archie doesn’t get intimidated when umpiring the Senior games.

“I don’t think the players actually know my age. My dad told me when I started to go with what I see, trust my gut, and never change my decision once I’ve blown my whistle. If you change your mind the players will think they can intimidate you to favour their team. Also, never react to the crowd!”

Archie’s favourite thing about his involvement at his local club is seeing all the teamwork pay off and the sense of community at the club.

“I love football and love working as a team with my mates. When you win a game with your team everyone is on a high and celebrates. From your teammates, to coaching staff to all the game day volunteers and parents”, he said.

Portarlington Football Netball Club Junior Coordinator Dan O’Meara thinks Archie is a delightful young man who thinks of others before himself.

“Archie is a junior member who personifies the spirit of our club…He is respectful, polite and has a real passion for the Portarlington Demons”, he said.

“Those involved in local clubs know how hard it is to find volunteers on a cold, wet wintry day. When we have a home game Archie is there from morning till night…There probably isn’t a role at the club except for the bar that he hasn’t done!” he said.

“It was a great honour last season to present him as our Junior Club Person of the Year – the roar from the crowd when his name was read out really highlights just what he means to our community.”

Dan O’Meara’s favourite story about Archie demonstrates the type of selfless and giving kid that he is, when Archie won a kicking competition at his team training session.

“The prize was some cash that had been stuck on an old bin. Most kids would have taken this money for themselves...Not Archie! Can you believe that he announced to his teammates on the night that he was going to shout them all a pizza night to cap off the season with his winnings. True to his word, a couple of weeks later he ordered 20 large pizzas and brought a couple of slabs of soft drink to celebrate the season with both our clubs Under 14s teams!”

It should come as no surprise that Archie was more than happy to take over the microphone at the Seniors Best and Fairest vote count keeping the whole room entertained with his self-proclaimed “Bruce McAvaney twang”, alongside his “Kahoot” quizzes at team dinners throughout the year.

“I always like to add questions about the history of Portarlington Demons Football Netball Club, it’s been around for 150yrs this year! Some current AFL questions, everyone has the expectation of one or two Geelong Cats questions [as an avid Cats supporter] and then I add a few about our coaches, other sports and a question each about the Brownlow and Coleman medal”, Archie said.

Archie has been embraced by clubs and players around the AFL Barwon region, there is nothing he loves more than a post-game handshake from the Seniors players who know him by name. He feels like he has 40 big brothers looking out for him around the club, and everyone who knows Archie looks forward to his continued involvement for many years to come.

AFL Victoria’s Local Legends initiative aims to recognise the local heroes who are the lifeblood of their local clubs and communities.

Whether it be a coach, player, umpire, local business owner, administrator or volunteer, AFL Victoria wants to celebrate the people who are the backbone of community football clubs. Community football clubs simply could not survive without those who are willing to show up each weekend and make sure that the game goes ahead, crowds are well fed, players are supported and success is enjoyed.

Nominees for the AFL Victoria Local Legends initiative can be anyone who is involved in a community football club in any capacity, whether it be paid or unpaid, directly related to the game or a behind-the-scenes super star, these legends are who make community football what it is.

Do you know someone with a great story like Archie’s? Nominate them now