North Pilbara Football League umpire Mick Finlay brought up game number 300 in the Port Hedland Rovers v Karratha Falcons match where he ran through a banner and was celebrated for his contribution to country football. Finlay has been umpiring for 32 years and originally picked up the whistle to keep fit in a hope to return to playing football. “Once I started umpiring I loved it and I’ve been at it ever since,” Finlay said. He has umpired all around the State, from Broome to Margaret River. “I’ve seen some funny stuff and some very traumatic stuff that shouldn’t happen to umpires but luckily the good far outweighs the bad. It was very touching seeing the banner they made for me, I was really impressed and it was very special,” he said. Over the years Finlay has had the best seat in the house to watch many champion footballers. “Patty Rogers for the Karratha Kats was absolutely fantastic and Mark Hobson for the Swans would have to be one of the best centre men I’ve ever seen. I also got to see (former Essendon and Sydney Swans player) Derek Kickett when he was up here. “It’s great to see the young players come up and get into the WAFL or AFL ranks too.” Finlay said the poor treatment of umpires by spectators was hindering the development of up-and-coming officials. “The abuse has to stop, it is wrong to recruit a young kid to go out there, learning to umpire and people yell obscenities at him,” he said, “People seem to think they have a god-given right to abuse umpires...everyone has to learn to show them respect.” WA Football Commission Pilbara Regional Development manager Vicki Agnew said Finlay was a consummate professional and a great mentor to young umpires. “Without people like Mick we simply can’t play week in and week out. Our great game does not grow and our potential stars do not get the opportunity to develop. The unnecessary abuse and criticism that umpires face every single week is a huge deterrent, so to find someone who can weather this, we need to look after them and appreciate them,’’ she said.