Local Legends

Local Legends: Milestone ump hits 1500 games

Geoff Coghill has been umpiring since 1965 throughout the AFL Barwon region. Image: Colac Herald

78-year-old Geoff Coghill has been a true stalwart of the AFL Barwon football region, umpiring 1500 games over nearly 60 years!

Geoff began umpiring in 1965 in Geelong and has continued through to 2024 despite having never played a game of football himself. He was encouraged by a friend’s father to try umpiring, and he quickly fell in love with it. Geoff has three daughters, who never played football either, but would often watch his games from the sidelines and have been heavily involved in the social aspect of the local footy community all these years.

Geoff has umpired across the Colac and District, Geelong, Hampden, Western Plains and Heytesbury Mount Noorat Football Leagues over his six-decade umpiring career and remains in Colac where he hit the milestone of 1500 games on May 26 at Gellibrand Reserve in the Otway District.

Geoff was awarded Life Membership to the Colac and District Football Umpires Association in 1982 and received an Australia Day award in 2016 for Sporting Service of the Year in the Colac Shire.

Geoff has worked his whole life as an optician, making eyeglasses for a living, which has led to some comical scenes on the footy field when spectators have been unhappy with a decision and told him to get himself a pair of his own glasses to see better!

His daughter Shelley described his umpiring style as firm, but very fair, and said he has umpired hundreds of juniors, reserves and seniors’ games including many grand finals.

“Hitting the 1000 game and 1200 game milestones where highlights for Dad, but this 1500 game milestone takes the cake as his proudest umpiring achievement,” she said.

“He has said he might finally retire now!”.

AFL Barwon Regional Manager, Edward Wilson commended Geoff on his achievement and his dedication to umpiring.

“Geoff’s achievement is testament to his passion, commitment and expertise to the discipline of umpiring,” he said.

“Through Geoff’s tenure as an umpire, he’s inspired and supported many within the umpiring fraternity and an achievement of this magnitude, will continue to be a source of immense inspiration for all within our community”.

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 Geoff's? Nominate them now