Baker’s delight for 800 game mark

Celebration: Scott Baker (ball in hand) walks out for game number 800. Photograph supplied





MILESTONES are celebrated significantly within sports, but it always appears to be the players in the spotlight.

But something that can easily go unnoticed is the work of umpires, who without them, the game can’t even go ahead.

Recently, Latrobe Valley Umpires Association’s Scott Baker reached another milestone, as he officiated his 800th game.

When Morwell hosted Leongatha in the Gippsland League on Saturday, May 13, more than one occasion was being celebrated.

Baker was bringing up his 800th game, but also on the day, the Tigers and Parrots were raising money for breast cancer research.

Upon reaching his 800th game, Baker admitted he never thought he’d make it this far.

“I didn’t think I’d get there, it was certainly an achievement I didn’t think I’d ever get.

“It was actually a great day,” he said of the game.

Baker began umpiring back in 1991 as a 16-year-old, and the competition was a completely different game.

“I started (umpiring) when I was 16 … I’ve been a life member (of Latrobe Valley Umpires) since 2001,” Baker said.

“(I’ve enjoyed) the friendships I’ve made with the association and the people that I’ve met during the journey.

“I’ve certainly become good friends with a lot of players, and I just enjoy being at the panel.”

Throughout his umpiring career, Baker has been to and lived many experiences outside of Gippsland football.

One moment that stands out was when he umpired three quarters of a Dandenong Stingrays intra-club trail match at the old Waverly Park, when he was trying out to be an AFL umpire.

“The main highlight is probably doing 12 senior Grand Finals … they were one of my big achievements,” Baker said.

“I’m now just enjoying still being involved, I know that I had chances to make it in Melbourne, but I probably just made too many friends down here.”

The AFL itself has changed a lot over the years, and with that, country footy has followed suit.

“It’s changed a lot, this year Latrobe Valley Umpires (Association) have got their 70th reunion on the 24th of June,” Baker said.

“In the 32 years I’ve been there, it’s certainly changed a lot over the years.”

Obviously milestones are generally celebrated in 50s, but the next big achievement that everyone is asking is if Baker can reach 1000 games.

“We’ll wait and see, a few fellow umpires and my parents reckon I’m still young and they reckon that I’ll easily get it,” he said.

“I still enjoy the atmosphere, and getting down to a training night.”

Baker has been egged on by fellow umpires, friends and family, as they all hope he can hit the four-figure mark.

At the age of just 48, the potential is still there to hit 1000, and he could join an illustrious small group of local umpires to reach the milestone.