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Ump's raring to give 'all clear'

Wednesday, 11th May, 2011

BACK IN ACTION: Field umpire Frank Nutt has been helping out in the goals while overcoming injuries sustained in a motorbike accident. BACK IN ACTION: Field umpire Frank Nutt has been helping out in the goals while overcoming injuries sustained in a motorbike accident.

By Darrin Manuel

Football leagues across Australia will pay tribute to the dedication of umpires this weekend as part of the AFL's "Thanks Ump" initiative, and few officials could lay claim to being more dedicated than Broken Hill's own Frank Nutt.

After overcoming terrible injuries suffered in a motorbike accident, Frank Nutt has returned the field in 2011 recast in the role of a goal umpire.

Nutt ordinarily plies his trade as a field umpire, but has been on restricted duties after hitting a kangaroo while riding his KTM 625 motorbike in the Flinders Ranges in June last year.

The crash left Nutt with a broken ankle, tibia, fibula, wrist and elbow, and was followed by an agonising nine-hour wait before receiving treatment from the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

"I don't remember much about it, but I remember it hurt," he said.

"I was just riding along and didn't see it coming through the scrub. It hit my front wheel and away I went.

"But when you get a serious injury like that I think the endorphins kick in and you don't know much about it."

Although he still walks with a pronounced limp, he predicted he would return to field umpiring in the 2012 season.

"I'll get back, no questions asked. I can't run at the moment but I'm hoping to be back running after Christmas.

"In the meantime I thought I'd get down and help out in the goals just to keep my finger on the pulse and stay involved.

"I figured if I'm going to be down there standing around anyway, then I may as well do the goals."

The new role has proven to be an eye-opening experience, and Nutt said he had gained a new appreciation for the men behind the goals.

"I've had four games in the goals and there's more to it than I thought. I think I sort of took them for granted.

"I always thought they just basically stood around but you've got to be ready with the flags, keep track of the score, and just be alert all the time."

While life as a goal umpire has provided an interesting change, the 52 year-old said his heart was still with field umpiring.

"It's been very difficult to watch the other blokes umpiring and you miss out.

"I've been doing it for 14 years and I'd only missed three games and now I've had to step away. It's hard because you want to be out there."

Nutt's eventual return to field umpiring will provide a welcome boost to the current roster of gameday officials, which remains typically short of names.

The veteran umpire urged any members of the football public who are able to contribute through umpiring to do so.

"We're short on goals, we're short on field, we're short on everything. We need to get new blood out here or we're going to have no-one.

"We can't just keep having the same people in their 50s and 60s soldiering on.

"I hope we see some more people get involved because it is a good thing. You meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends, and it keeps you fit."

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