Frank Kalayzich To Umpire His 500th Senior Sydney AFL Game

There is a famous statement that – records are made to be broken – and this week, the AFL Sydney Umpires Group has a MILESTONE record that will be made by field umpire Frank Kalayzich – 500 Senior Premier Division Games in the AFL Sydney Competition – a record that will not be surpassed.

Frank began his umpiring journey in 1978 in the North Shore Junior Football competition and he has umpired every year since. In 1983 he umpired his first senior game with his inaugural Sydney First Grade Game happening in 1986. It is fitting that he is running his 500th Game with Hayden Kennedy and Ray Chamberlain – two AFL legends who could not pass up on sharing in such a magnificent milestone event.

Frank’s career has included umpiring VFL/AFL Reserves Games and he has worked with some of umpiring’s most successful including John Russo and Hayden Kennedy as well as many others who have been and are currently on the AFL Umpires List including Troy Pannell and Ray Chamberlain.

The success that Frank has enjoyed has been due to his commitment, hard work as well as a positive mental attitude. Like most umpires he has enjoyed the support of many people, particularly his family and the umpiring community.

Frank acknowledges a couple of key umpiring coaches for his longevity including David Levens whose insightful advice laid the foundations for the umpire he is today. Frank also valued the great work that Max Henry, Keith Ogston, David Howlett and Steve Keating did in their roles as the State Umpiring Managers in Sydney.

Mark Rendell was named by Frank as another significant person who provided encouragement, support and advice in addition to the coaches. Mark’s help in transitioning from Junior to Senior football was invaluable and foundational to this major milestone.

Having umpired for 30 years makes Frank a stalwart of umpiring fraternity. During this long career he has also given back to the community, particularly in mentoring younger umpires.  His advice for them has always been is to enjoy the experience and that through hard work, dedication and listening to the good coaches results can be achieved.

There have been a number of highlights in Frank’s career.

  • All of his 10 Senior Grand Finals (He matched his good mate Anton Lewis with 10 Sydney Senior Grand Finals.)
  • The First Grand Final he did in 1987 between Campbelltown and St George. This game had 29 reports. Being in his second year as a senior umpire meant that it was his most challenging Grand Final to date. Frank advised that he had 6 reports in the first quarter.
  • In the 1990 the Grand Final between Parramatta and North Shore there were 27 reports surely leading the following year to the send-off rule being introduced. These were both in the two-umpire system.
  • The 91, 92, 93, 97 and 99 Grand Finals so obviously he is fond of the 1990s for his umpiring career.

Frank believes the best umpire in the Sydney AFL was Troy Pannell, based on work ethic, commitment and perseverance. Frank’s favourite umpire of all time is Hayden Kennedy for his running work rate throughout his entire career.

Frank also credits his Chiropractor Damien Benson for keeping that evergreen body of his intact to umpire each weekend thus getting him to his 500th game. He has never missed a home and away game through injury!

Frank is held in high regard amongst the umpiring and football fraternity. Some of Frank’s former associates offered these words to Frank in this record-breaking milestone game.


Ray Chamberlain – 
former Sydney and current AFL Umpire as well as Umpiring Mentor

All of us involved in Umpiring (at whatever level that may be) are aware of the many positive experiences that participation provides.  For me, the undeniable number one reason for my continued involvement in officiating has always been the people who I have been fortunate enough to meet and spend time with.  Frankie K has, without doubt, been one of the strongest influences on my career in Umpiring.  From the very first time I met Frank he has impressed me enormously with his behaviours.  His behaviours and actions are what speak loudest.  High standards, an unrelenting desire to improve and learn, humility, his support for Umpiring as a whole, his passion for the game and his authentic, transparent manner are qualities that I value very highly.

Whilst this milestone is quite rightly a wonderful celebration of Frank himself and what he has achieved in his time in football and umpiring, it’s Frank’s selflessness, support of others, loyalty and work as an educator/mentor of fellow umpires that, in my eyes, is to be most admired.  Frank’s guidance around physical preparation is what I first experienced.  Fifty minute tempo runs through Balmain, immediately followed by 1km swims (Frank swam 1km… I splashed around for however long that took him!) topped off with 10-20 minutes of treading water like a Water Polo goalkeeper were my rude introductions to the notion of pre-season!  Frank was relentless and those sessions taught me plenty!

Conversations with Frank will now generally begin with queries relating to Laws of the Game and decisions from matches over the weekend.  These are always insightful, considered and challenging.  But from there, our chats always head towards travel, wives, children, business, life!  Weddings, pasta at ‘No Names’, swimming pool sessions with the families are the main events.  I am extremely excited and humbled to be able to share in Frank’s magnificent achievement of 500 games.  But I am most proud to be able to call Frankie K my mate.

 

David Levens – former Sydney and AFL Umpiring Coach and current ICC Umpire’s Coach

Frank has made a wonderful contribution to Australian Football in Sydney through his umpiring endeavours and the achievement of 500 matches is testament to that. Frank had a great work ethic to his physical preparation and fitness and I remember his achievements in many of the fitness testing regimes. While we know that umpiring is ‘more than running’ Frank’s commitment in this area did present a good example to others, particular those who were keen to progress their umpiring further.

Frank was keen to see the on-going improvement of umpiring in Sydney. I have received occasional phone calls from Frank wishing to discuss umpiring matters and seeking another view/opinion. It was during these times that he indicated his willingness to support and assist younger umpires on their journey, in similar ways that Mark Rendell did with Frank, particularly early in Frank’s career. It is important that people like Frank, particularly with his experience, continue to make a contribution to umpiring in Sydney.

The milestone is a great achievement on the national officiating landscape and I hope that it provides many happy memories.

 

Hayden Kennedy – AFL Umpiring Games Record holder 495 senior games and current AFL Umpires Senior Coach

Frank has been an institution for the umpiring fraternity in Sydney for a long, long, long time. He was the first real umpire that I came across in my early days in the AFL. I was amazed that this big, fit, good looking manly bloke was an umpire rather than a power sportsperson such as an Olympic rower. The square shoulders and ripped torso were testament to how he looked after himself to give himself the best possible chance to succeed at his given leisure pursuit.

I was always welcomed when I umpired in Sydney and Frank was largely responsible for this. He was very gracious with his time and was interested in what you were up to and how you were going. I found Frank extremely personable. He was always willing to improve, and would continually ask questions in order to build upon his level of knowledge. It was only a month or so ago when Frank rang me in my new role of Coach to the AFL Umpires wanting some clarification on a rule (with his own thoughts thrown in for good measure).

Umpiring 500 games is a wonderful achievement that demands a very disciplined lifestyle. You need to look after yourself mentally and physically, and commit fully each year to either help younger umpires and / or strive to achieve personal goals.

I am thrilled to see Frank achieve this milestone. Umpiring needs great tories like this. Congratulations.

 

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