The Real Jeff Gieschen Story: Extracts from the AFL umpire’s boss diary

Diary extracts from an interesting year for AFL umpire’s boss, Jeff Gieschen.


March 13, 2013
Got a new boss today – Mark Evans has taken over from Adrian Anderson. I think the new boss was at Hawthorn or something, he seems to know a bit about footy unlike Adrian. The first thing the new boss did was get me a new office, well actually he moved me from my office to a  desk between the photocopier and the water cooler – it’s a great spot for chatting to people as they come by.


Is this my desk? I'm not sure. It looks like my desk
Is this my desk? I’m not sure – it looks like my desk. That sure is a big whiteboard with a lot of magnetic name-tags. Why am I wearing this shirt? I’m not a stockbroker.
March 20, 2013
I was down at SEN today recording the ‘laws of the game’ explanations for all the rules changes sorry I mean rule interpretations we’d implemented for the new season. KB dropped by to make sure I had all the new interpretations correct and gave them the green light so I recorded these explanations:


“If Player A of Team 1 tackles an opposition player, Player B of the opposition team, Team 2 and in the act of tackling Player B, Player A pushes said Player B in the back and drives Player B’s head into the ground then the tackler, Player A, will have committed an infringement against the laws of the game regarding tackling and shall have conceded a free kick to the original tacklee, that is the person tackled, in this case player B of Team 2 who will be awarded a free kick as a result of the tackling infringement”


I also recorded a couple more shorter explanations


“The head is sacrosanct”




“The bump is dead”


The SEN guys said the last two were too short to use as sound grabs and also reckoned they weren’t law explanations or rule interpretations or even guidelines but statements. I said they were splitting hairs and left. Berks.


May 7th, 2013
Bloody Razer Ray Chamberlain was at it again paying free kicks for ‘hands in the back’ when he shouldn’t have. I had to explain to the media that Razer had made another mistake and still doesn’t understand how players can use a bumper bar in a marking contest or how they can do a half push. Looks like I’ll have to run an intensive workshop for Ray again. I mean the law is really simple you can’t push, block, bump or hold in a marking contest except for the bumper bar and the half push.


To get the damn media off my case I recorded an explanation of the pushing in a marking contest rule, I mean interpretation,  with Gerard Healy for On The Couch. Gerard really started pissing me off with his nitpicking and constant questioning of everything I said so I tried to clock him in the chin when I was demonstrating a full arm extension. Unfortunately I missed him but here’s the full interview, I think I explained everything really clearly, I don’t know what Gerard’s problem was. Berk.


May 8th, 2013
Rolled into work today at 9:30am, running late as usual. I checked my emails and there was a meeting from Evo sent at  9:3opm last night. It was an invite to something called a ‘Performance Review Meeting (PRM)’ I have no idea what it’s all about. I’ve never had a PRM in my 13 years at the AFL. I guess it must be something to do with the Match Review Pannel (MRP) that’s getting a lot of bad publicity at the moment for it’s inconsistency. A name change is always a good idea, changing from the old tribunal to the MRP took the heat off for 2-3 years – it was great.


June 4th, 2013
Gee the new boss Evo is great, he dropped into my office today and said I could have 3 weeks holiday – Adrian would never have done this. I thought great I’d love to get away for 3 weeks in November but Evo said the offer was conditional on me taking the leave immediately.


It must be like the deal Andy D got last year where he had to miss a large chunk of the season because he was sent on a fact finding mission to the London Olympics.


Evo also said the three weeks off was also conditional on me not talking to the media – odd. Any way I took up the offer. Monday – look out Lakes Entrance.


June 12th, 2013
Lakes Entrance is nice, good fishing. Pity the motel is cheap and nasty. I put in a call to Evo about getting a better place but haven’t heard back from him. Ah well, it sure beats working.


July 5th, 2013
Evo rang me, he said he had a new job for me. He wants me to travel around overseeing umpiring development across the country, watching umpires in local footy and passing on the years of accumulated umpiring wisdom I’ve gathered from never umpiring a game. He said I should start at my old stomping ground of Maffra and then just go anywhere from there. Great!


A couple of farkwits I met in Adeliade when I was on tour overseeing umpire development
A couple of farkwits I met in Adelaide when I was on tour overseeing umpire development
August 31st, 2013
First day back in the office today. Evo had sent me an email. After I finally worked out how to open the email this is what it said:


Upon consideration I’ve decided to put you on gardening leave indefinitely.
Go home, mow your lawns, put your feet up and don’t discuss this with anyone, not Andy D and not the media.
This is genuine.
Mark Evans
General Manager, Football Operations


Well I didn’t need any further instructions I was out the door and on the lawn mower before lunch.


September 10th, 2013
Still haven’t heard from Evo. I think I might prune the roses today and manure the azaleas. It’s that time of year.


September 15th, 2013
Got some seedlings today from the local nursery and a couple of fruit trees. The garden is really starting to take shape. Still haven’t heard from Evo.


September 20th, 2013
The garden has never looked better. The fruit trees are really coming along well. Still no word from Evo as to when I’ll be required back in the office but he did give me some work from home to do – reviewing old grand finals.


Just reviewing the umpiring performance in the 1979 Grand Final: all clear
Working from home reviewing the umpiring performance in the 1979 Grand Final: all clear from me. Must remember to change shirts.
October 17th, 2013
Evo left me a voicemail. It was a bit hard to understand because he used a lot of big words and complicated phrases like ‘discontinuation of current employment situation’, ‘heading in different directions’ and ‘new horizons in the new year.’ All I took from it is he wants me back in the office in 2014. Good news!


November 29th, 2013
Gee Evo is a great bloke, he sent me a letter and a present today – a gold watch! The letter was pretty long and a bit hard to read with all the long words but here is a bit of what it said:


We sincerely thank you Jeff for your efforts over the last 14 years in particular  for implementing a range of umpiring reforms:
  • abolition of the white uniform as part of a conscious effort to eradicate the “white maggot” label previously applied to umpires
  • introduction of  a DVD over-viewing umpiring/laws of the game for umpires, clubs, media and fans which you graciously agreed to do the voiceover work for yourself
  •  successfully recommended the implementation of taller goalposts to improve scoring accuracy
  • oversaw the introduction of the “Score Review System”
  • oversaw the introduction of the Post-It note system for player interchange movements
  • successfully oversaw the scrapping of the Post-It note system for player interchange movements
  • streamlined the  interchange procedure, including orange flags for interchange stewards and penalties far outweighing the minor misdemeanor of an  interchange infringement
  • four boundary umpires to enable boundary umpires to keep up with the game
  • the appointment of Chelsea Roffey, the first female umpire appointed to a final, including a grand final
  • shifting the umpire associations annual end of season trip from Bali to Maffra

Evo is early with his Christmas presents and generous – a gold watch – but no card. I must remember to add him to my Christmas card list.

December 15, 2013
Just doing my Christmas cards for the year: Andy D, Adrian Anderson, Evo, all the field, goal and boundary umpires plus my Dad & a couple of his mates at the nursing home for sitting up in the Goal Review booth for every game – they did a great job. Haven’t heard about the AFL Christmas party – I must work out how to check my emails from home.


A quick selfie before my first day of work in 2014.
A quick selfie before my first day at work for the new year. A new year, a new shirt.
January 6, 2014
Turned up for the first day of the new year at work this morning and my security pass wouldn’t work. I waved at the girls behind the desk and they let me in. They’re use to that – I usual forget my security pass a couple of times a week. The girls looked a bit surprised to see me and then who should walk in the door but Wayne Campbell. I hadn’t seen Cambo since I got sacked from coaching Richmond. Gee those were the days, finishing 9th and stuff.


Cambo said, “Geisch I didn’t know you were coming in to do a handover. Does Evo know your here?”


By this stage I was getting pretty confused, more confused than when I read some of the new rule interpretations KB has dreamed up. Everything was a lot clearer when I was leaving AFL House 15 minutes  later with my personal items in a cardboard box escorted out by a security guard.


I must work out how to use the internet. Everyone else seemed to know what was happening except me.

I can’t complain – umpire’s boss was a good lurk and I bluffed my way through it for 14 years. Thanks Andy D.



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Ross Slater

Blogging about the important things - AFL and cricket

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