And after being advised by the AFL last fortnight that he would not be offered a contract for 2010 despite seven outstanding seasons, Hendrie is preparing to deliver on his promise and become a full-time WAFL umpire next season.
“My fate was sealed with a call advising me that I would not be offered a contract for next year,” Hendrie said. “Whilst disappointing it certainly came as no surprise to me as I had a pretty up and down season this year and conversations with the coaching staff towards the end of the year prepared me for this outcome.
“I’d like to make it really clear that I am in no way bitter about the outcome. I have been honoured and privileged to be a part of AFL umpiring for the last seven years and I have cherished every moment of it. Sure I would have loved to have had more success but I am extremely happy to have achieved what I have and to have met some terrific people along the way.”
Hendrie, whose father Rob and brother Wayne also umpired AFL, said the highlight of his career was his debut in 2003 when Fremantle hosted Richmond at Subiaco Oval, as well as standing alongside some of the champions of the game.
“Overall the whole experience was great. Being on the ground with some of the champions was excellent and it really educated me about what it takes to make it to the highest level. I didn’t get to umpire any finals or big milestone games but just walking onto grounds like the MCG and SCG that are steeped in history was a fantastic experience.”
Hendrie umpired 69 AFL games in total, taking his career tally to 287 games including four WAFL Grand Finals. He is also a three-time winner of the West Australian Football Commission’s Montgomery Medal, which is presented to the top umpire in WA each season.
WAFC General Manager Umpiring Steve Hargrave congratulated Hendrie on a terrific AFL career and said it was great to hear that he planned to continue umpiring at WAFL level next year.
“It is sensational news and simply demonstrates how committed Craig is towards umpiring and the development of other umpires in this State,” Hargrave said.
Hendrie said he also hoped to move into an umpire’s coaching role in the future so he could pass on some of the knowledge he gained in the AFL system.
“The WAFL has been good to me and put me on the right path so it would be good to give something back,” he said.
“Umpiring the WAFL Grand Final cemented in my mind that I’m not ready to finish yet. I still really enjoy coming back and umpiring with my mates without such a high level of scrutiny.”
Hendrie thanked the AFL umpires coaching team for its support over the last seven years and also made mention of the AFLUA for its continued support and the running of a very professional association.
And his parting words of advice: “Never take umpiring at this level for granted and enjoy every moment.”