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Duo aiming for the big league

Date

David Polkinghorne

Local AFL boundary and goal umpires, Scott Gordon and Dale Puren.

Local AFL boundary and goal umpires, Scott Gordon and Dale Puren. Photo: Rohan Thomson

While no ACT footballers have been drafted this year, that hasn't stopped two Canberrans being added to the AFL umpires panel for 2013.

Goal umpire Dale Puren and boundary ump Scott Gordon have brought Canberra's umpire tally to six.

This year flag waver James Savage brought up 100 AFL games, while Luke Roberts and Chris Simms are both experienced boundary riders.

Field umpire ''Razor'' Ray Chamberlain remains Canberra's most high profile whistle blower in Aussie rules.

Now Puren and Gordon are living the dream and are working towards impressing the umpire selection panel at a five-kilometre time trial in January.

The aim then is to get picked for the pre-season NAB Cup with the goal of making a debut in the season proper.

Greater Western Sydney's inclusion into the AFL has opened the door not only for more players, but more umpires as well, and Puren and Gordon have the chance to umpire at Manuka Oval.

''It's an added extra, Chris Simms made his debut here in 2009 as a 17-year-old,'' Puren told The Canberra Times on Monday.

''It'd be nice to do it in front of your home crowd, but we're hardly the reason people are there.''

For Gordon the dream was just like any player's - to run out in front of a packed MCG.

The 19-year-old university student only took up umpiring three years ago. He started out playing for Belconnen Magpies, but saw a more realistic path to the AFL through his boundary riding.

''If there's injuries [to umpires] in other states then there's the potential to travel,'' Gordon said.

''That'd be nice of course, umpiring on the MCG would be good.''

While Gordon has enjoyed a rapid rise, Puren has been waving his flags for 11 years, starting out as a 15-year-old after playing for Marist College as a junior.

He feels that added experience will help him when he has to stand in front of a rabid cheer squad and receive advice from the more colourful fans.

Having Savage there has also been a big help.

''[He hasn't helped me] in any formal sense, but he's definitely been a mentor,'' Puren said.

''He's been there for nearly 10 years, he's knocked over 100 games in the AFL and that's a heck of a lot of experience.

''And not long after I started he's been in the AFL, I've been trying to emulate him.''

Both Gordon and Puren found out on Thursday morning through a phone call from AFL umpires boss Jeff Gieschen.

The pair knew new umpires would find out last week and every time the phone rang they hoped they'd hear Gieschen's voice on the other end.

They had to wait until Thursday.

''It was a good way to start the day, a very good way to start the day … whenever you heard the phone ring you'd jump for it and see who it is,'' Puren said.

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