Umpire boss praises those who helped pave his career
CRICKET :It's been almost two decades since umpiring legend Darren Goodger regularly raised his finger on a cricket field in the Clarence Valley, but his links to the local game remain strong.
Last month the Cricket Sydney website celebrated Goodger's outstanding 368-game record in Sydney grade cricket as an umpire and administrator with a Q&A article about his life and times in the game.
Since moving to Sydney he has rubbed shoulders with some household names in cricket, but what was striking for Clarence Valley cricket tragics was the number of local names ranked as strong influences in his career.
Local umpiring legend and mentor the late Roy "Amazing" Grace, the knock about character Bill Massingham and current leading country umpire Bruce Baxter figure as prominently as international umpires Simon Taufel or Rod Tucker.
As a player Goodger's talents didn't take him any further than third grade for Brothers, but it did allow him to mix with some Clarence cricket notables.
When asked about his career on the field he recalled a team where he was the standout player in Brothers' thirds.
"The Cotten and Law families were great cricket families in the CRCA," he said.
"I remember playing one match in third grade for Brothers CC where our team consisted of Fred Cotten (c), Des Cotten, Geoff Cotten, Ian Cotten, Kelvin Cotten, Les Cotten, Craig Law, Gordon Law, Peter Law, Robert Law and me."
Goodger said the decision to umpire came from a teacher at his school St Aloysius College (now McAuley Catholic College) Mike McKenzie.
"(He was) one of my teachers, my first cricket coach and a respected rugby league referee and cricket umpire. He inspired in me a passion for refereeing and umpiring."
Once in the umpiring ranks Goodger came under the guidance of the top local umpire Roy Grace.
Goodger said Grace was one of three people he wished to model his umpiring on. The others were international umpires Dick French and Harold Crozier.
Goodger said Grace's knowledge of the laws of cricket and player management skills were second to none.
"Roy taught me you need to know the laws of the game inside out if you're going to manage a game of cricket properly," he said.
But he also remembered local larrikins fondly and none more than Bill Massingham.
Asked who was the funniest man umpire and who he would like to sit next to on a plane flight, Goodger nominated Massingham both times.
"He loves cricket and umpiring, his enthusiasm is infectious, he is resilient and possesses a great sense of humour and the best jokes," Goodger said.
"He's a great character, loved and respected by his colleagues."
Current leading local umpire Bruce Baxter was another to figure strongly as an influence on his development.
"Graham Rose and Bruce Baxter taught me about proper on field conduct and acceptable standards of behaviour in the game," he said.
"They are tremendous men and still heavily involved in umpiring on the north coast after decades of service to the game."
Goodger said the one danger he feared doing the article was missing people and he wished to add Grafton cricketer the late Bill Wynn to the list.
"Billy was one of the main reasons I moved down to Sydney," he said.
"When you had a beer with Bill you entered a bullshit-free zone. He told me if I was serious about umpiring I had to go down there and give it a go.
"Looking back it was probably the tipping point for my decision to leave."