Several senior umpires contacted the AFL on Friday evening and Saturday morning, asking for a show of public support following the game.
But frustrations boiled over when the AFL’s media department kiboshed the idea of a league representative going on the record.
It’s understood the AFL’s media department didn’t receive any specific requests from the media on Friday, but the umpires were disappointed that the head of football Steve Hocking didn’t get on the front foot.
That decision has impacted, and in some cases fractured, the relationship between senior umpires and the AFL.
It isn’t the first incident this season that has left the umpires feeling let down by senior figures at AFL headquarters.
Umpires voiced their concerns after round two, when a contentious free kick for contact below the knees in the Collingwood v West Coast match lead to heated debate and condemnation of umpiring.
Geelong great and Channel Seven commentator Cameron Ling said during the game, «I can’t handle that being a free kick,» and Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield tweeted, «Don’t put your head over the ball kids.»
Following the meetings, the issue seemed to have been resolved between the two parties and umpires believed they were now guaranteed public support from the AFL if their decisions were scrutinised publicly.
Less than two hours after Scott Pendlebury was booed by Essendon fans as he accepted his Anzac Day medal, umpires coach Hayden Kennedy had reviewed the game and ticked off on all five controversial final-quarter incidents.
Despite that, senior officials from the game analysis team, including Hocking, James Podsiadly, Brett Munro and David Rath, remained confused over several of the free kicks after poring over vision on Friday.
AFL Umpires Association chief Peter Howe says he will continue to work with the AFL on achieving the best outcome for all parties.
«The umpires look to the AFL to provide leadership and support in situations where there is some controversy around decisions and part of their role is to provide clarity to the stake holders of the game,» Howe told The Age.
The Age understands that another key point of frustration for the umpires over the weekend was that two of the three officiators on Anzac Day were two of the less experienced.
Brendan Hoskin has umpired nearly 200 fewer games than Ryan, while Andrew Stephens has umpired fewer than 100 games and was officiating his first ever Anzac Day match.
Both have been internally lauded for their gutsy calls during the breathless dying stages of Thursday’s match.
«Two of the clear examples were when the players stopped and there was no whistle. That’s happened in my games two or three times over the years, but really, that’s just the result of the noise level,» Ryan said on SEN.
«The players just can’t hear whether or not there’s been a whistle. Because of the scream of the crowd, they assume there’s been a whistle, they stop, look at us, we’re calling ‘play on’.»
As of last night, league officials were yet to reach out to senior umpires to address the fallout of Anzac Day and the continued lack of communication and support from AFL House.
The AFL was contacted for comment by The Age.
Sam McClure won the Clinton Grybas rising star award at the AFL media association awards in 2015.