Ken Ray Umpires 500th Premier Division Match
During the finals series, Sydney AFL Goal Umpire and NSWAFUA Life Member Ken Ray has officiated behind the goals in his 500th Premier Division game.
Ken’s passion for AFL began when he played junior football for Western Suburbs. He turned to coaching juniors in his adult life for many years, but in 1988 he found himself needing a new challenge. Late into the football season he decided to turn up to an umpires training night and soon found himself goal umpiring the last two matches of the season. He returned for his first full year 'behind the sticks' in 1989.
Ken quickly took to the mental demands of the discipline and in 1993 was appointed as Sydney AFL Goal Umpires Coach. For 17 years, Ken prepared and conducted training sessions each Thursday evening – educating, guiding and mentoring Goal Umpires as they came through the ranks.
In 1990 Ken was appointed to the AFL panel, goal umpiring 62 games in both the Under 19s and Reserves before making his AFL debut in 1999. Ken recalls the experience as if it was only yesterday. Sydney played North Melbourne at the SCG, and the Swans found themselves behind all day until “Paul Kelly delivered the goal that turned the game around – it went straight over my head and I remember saying to myself ‘how good is this’!”
After officiating in nine AFL games over a two year period – and with limited matches being available for the Sydney based AFL umpires at the time – Ken took up the role of AFL Goal Umpires Coach and Observer for AFL matches in NSW/ACT at the beginning of season 2001, a role he continued to perform until 2011.
The Sydney AFL Goal Umpiring panel is especially grateful for the work Ken has put in during his years as coach. He has accelerated the development of many goal umpires to come through the AFL Sydney ranks. For over a decade he has helped countless young (and older) men and women gain a greater understanding of goal umpiring, and Australian Football itself.
On behalf of both the NSWAFUA and the Sydney AFL community we congratulate Ken on his outstanding achievement – and hope to see him waving the flags for many more seasons to come.
Ken Ray’s Sydney AFL Achievements
Member of the NSWAFUA since 1989
Elected as a Life Member of the NSWAFUA in 2005
Elevated to NSWAFUA Hall of Fame in 2013
Total games umpired – 751
Premier Division Senior Grade games umpired – 500
Premier Division Senior Grade Grand Finals – 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2013
The Michael Heinrichs Award (Best Goal Umpire) – 1990, 1996, 2003
Ken was the official AFL Goal Umpires Observer for numerous years.