Australian Rules Football Uniforms
July 13, 2009 8:25 PM   Subscribe

When did the uniforms for the scoring judges in Australian Rules Football change?

I used to watch AFL many years ago, and have recently caught a few matches on TV, but I am disappointed that the scoring judges no longer wear the long coat with the pith helmet, having ditched them in favor of more contemporary garb. I'm wondering when they changed the uniforms and what might have prompted the change.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
Sometime around 2003, as far as I can remember and can tell from the internet. It was supposedly to prevent confusion when teams wore white guernseys and make umpiring look more professional—but as you say, it's disappointing not to see such a distinctive part of the game.

Volunteer umpire/parents still wear coats in Auskick (the children's modified-rule game). The professionals still do wear the coats too, occasionally, during the Heritage Round. It was never a pith helmet, incidentally; the classic goal umpire's gear was a long white coat, a white wide-brimmed hat and a bushy 1970s grocer's moustache.

Everybody now: white maggot!
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:15 PM on July 13, 2009

I'm not sure, but this bloke reckons goal umpire uniforms changed with the switch from Seven, which would make it 2001.
posted by zamboni at 9:20 PM on July 13, 2009

Here we go:

Maria Tickle: To many people, AFL goal umpires have always looked pretty comical, waving their flags in their white lab coats and broad-brimmed hats. Just this year though, they’ve modernised. They still have the hats and flags, but they’ve ditched the coats for polo shirts. But where did the funny uniforms come from in the first place? Richard All.

Richard All: They originated apparently over 100 years ago, because apparently the grounds in those days were nearly about a kilometre long, and they didn’t actually have umpires, the captains of each team called the free kicks, but they had to have someone at each end of the ground to keep a score, and the only way they could see each other was apparently, and to distinguish them from the crowd that used to stand around in the goal square, the defences and so forth, that they brought in the white coat, and then they brought in the hat. And they also, for many, many years, up until this year actually, with the coat they had a collar and tie. But I’ve always been an advocate, especially over the last four or five years, that the game has got so quick, and the players are so skilful, that the goal umpires have to move that quickly. But to have a collar and tie and have that restriction, even of a jacket and a coat, being able to move around, that’s just ridiculous in this day and age.

Looks like it was 2002.
posted by zamboni at 9:29 PM on July 13, 2009

For the curious, I could only find one decent picture of the old-style umpires.
posted by rhizome at 9:43 PM on July 13, 2009

I'm so glad I got to see a game before the uniforms changed. That was one of my favorite parts.

And why is it so hard to watch Australian rules football in the states? I can never find it at the bars even.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:51 PM on July 13, 2009

why is it so hard to watch Australian rules football in the states? I can never find it at the bars even.

Time zones, I think. Setanta shows at least one live AFL game a week, but the bounce is usually at midnight ET or later.

posted by holgate at 11:43 PM on July 13, 2009

this may help
posted by onya at 11:45 PM on July 13, 2009

I recently discovered that MSG+ has World Sports Saturday, with Setanta replays of AFL and NRL games. (Not live, but I'll take what I can get. Of course, with Setanta gone bust, dunno how long that'll last.)

Check your local sports channel - you might get lucky.
posted by zamboni at 2:24 PM on July 14, 2009

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