Bendigo Umpires Association celebrated the achievements of its members at its annual night of nights award ceremony.
In what's been a challenging year for sports across the region, the BUA was determined to acknowledge the hardwork of its umpires, in addition to presenting director of coaching stalwart Dean Goodridge with life membership.
"It was certainly unexpected and came as a big surprise," Goodridge said.
He has been umpiring since he was a 14-year-old and now 37 years later, it's certainly become a major part of his life.
"It means so much to me as I cherish the relationships with fellow umpires and officials," Goodridge said.
"Especially in the North Central Football League areas - around the smaller towns where I was based for 11 years before I came to Bendigo."
There is one element of being an umpire which Goodridge now enjoys the most, and that's sharing his knowledge and expertise with the next generation.
"They are like sponges and love learning," he said.
"It's great to interact with them and to see them develop on their umpiring pathway."
BUA general manager Sharon McColl said Goodridge was a worthy recipient of life membership.
"No matter what, Dean always gives 150 per cent to the association as an umpire," she said.
The online award ceremony also presented the BUA with the opportunity to celebrate the life of 1800-game veteran Tim Donnelly who recently passed away.
He was awarded life membership in 1996 and was Best Clubman in 1986, but what will live on forever is the positive impact he had on both his fellow umpires and football within the region.
"It was so pleasing to have the chance to acknowledge and honour his contributions to football," McColl said.
"He loved umpiring at a junior level and more importantly helping others as a mentor.
"It's safe to say most people at one stage or another were either umpired by him or with him."
"He will be missed."
McColl was also pleased to see several first-year umpires in action during the restriction-marred season.
"In total we had around 65 first-year umpires in action this year," she said.
"A new approach we took this season was starting junior umpires within the Bendigo Junior Football League on the field field rather than on the boundary to give them immediate experience to boost their knowledge and skills."
Overall McColl was pleased to acknowledge the dedication of all the BUA members.
"Thank you to the BUA sponsors, our members and families who joined us online for the special event," she said.
"And a big congratulations to all of our winners."
The BUA officiate matches in the Bendigo, Heathcote District, Loddon Valley, North Central and Bendigo Junior football leagues.
- Most Improved (Field): Nicholas Falconer
- Most Improved (Goal): Ashleigh Hunter
- Most Improved (Boundary): Connor McKenzie
- Life Members Scholarship: Shaylee Anderson
- Best First Year (Junior): Kade Hutchinson
- Ian Coates Memorial: Tony Field
- Golden Whistle: Jack Anderson
- Best First Year (Field): Jeremy Ellis
- Best First Year (Goal): Michael Dugmore
- Best First Year (Boundary): John Robinson
- Ian Tuddenham (Best Clubman): Stuart McKenzie
- Umpire of the Year (Field): Scott Bennett
- Umpire of the Year (Goal): Wayne Ford
- Umpire of the Year (Boundary): Michael Court
- Life Membership: Dean Goodridge.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: