Keith "Rowdy" Mark will reached another milestone this Saturday by waving the flags at Koornang Park in the Caulfield v Murrumbeena Ressies match in his 1300th SFNL/SESFL game. Keith has been associated with the Beena for over 50 years and arranges his milestone games for Beena matches, as the photo from game 1100 shows. His total is an all-time record for the SFNL/SESFL for all umpires.
Keith’s disability (he has been deaf since birth) hasn’t hampered his umpiring career as he has great eyesight. Keith started umpiring in 1981 to support his son John (Joffa) who was a junior boundary umpire, and who two years later field umpired a Div 1 senior match at the age of 16 (with Peter Martin as his umpiring partner). Joffa retired early from umpiring to concentrate on cricket (he represented Australia in indoor cricket) but Keith continued waving the flags, with many years as a member of the elite Division 1 panel. Although no longer in the Div 1 panel, Keith still loves his umpiring and the celebratory beer which he enjoys at the end of each Saturday. Unfortunately for players who have used Keith's deafness as an opportunity to try and "get away" with saying some less than complimentary things about his umpiring, he is able to lip read, and has been known to produce a card to an offending player with the words "I have reported you for using abusive language to an umpire" on it!!
Helping Keith celebrate on Saturday will be Peter Martin, who is reaching a milestone of his own as he becomes the first SFNL/SMJFL field umpire to reach 1000 games across both comps. However, Peter will never come close to Keith's record, which is likely to stand forever!