Gary Burgess at the Netball World Cup Liverpool 2019 with his signature ACME golden whistle – Credit ACME Whistles
Following 10 years umpiring in international Netball, Gary Burgess has today achieved his 100th cap as a top level official as he oversaw the game between Northern Ireland and Malawi at today’s Netball World Cup match in Liverpool.
As the first umpire in the UK to ever to achieve his century of international matches, and one of only FOUR umpires globally, the new landmark puts Gary into an exclusive group who lead the officiating of the sport. Gary said; “To be involved in the sport and working with amazing people around the world has been, and continues to be, so exciting and a real honour.”
Gary, who is known for his signature ACME golden whistle, started his netballing career in 1998 quickly becoming a well-recognised figure in the sport where he graduated to his first international match in 2009.
It was after his 50th international umpiring cap in 2013 (Botswana v Barbados) at which England Netball presented him with his Golden Whistle that was created for him by ACME Whistles – a trademark that has remained with him through to today.
“It was great to be presented with the golden whistle and I didn’t think anything of using it to umpire my next game – without being planned it just stuck from there. Before I knew it, I became my calling card and I was recognised at internationals around the world because of it,” added Gary. “Although it’s a part of my on-court identity, that might change after the 100th – the players will just have to wait and see!”
Ben McFarlane, Marketing Director from ACME Whistles, said; “Having made whistles for the world’s leading referees and umpires, we were delighted work with Netball England to create Gary’s golden whistle – which has now been replaced twice as he gifted originals to fans around the world. The whistle has not only been his tool to navigate and oversee his matches but has now become a bit of fun and a real part of his identity.”
Gary is a former PE teacher from Bedfordshire, who has more recently left his career in teaching to pursue the role of Head of Officiating at England Netball. For the last 20 years Gary has volunteered as a Netball umpire, ten of which have been overseeing international matches around the world including 11 consecutive Vitality Netball Superleague finals, two World Cup finals, two Commonwealth Games gold medal matches and three Guinness World Record breaking international matches.
As a child Gary’s aunt and cousin were big into netball and his best friend’s mum was Gloria Keech, franchise director at Saracens Mavericks. He would (removed always) go with her to netball matches to spectate and help out. Then whilst training to become a PE teacher at university, he was told that courses in female sport would be good for his CV so he enrolled on a netball umpiring course where Sheelagh Redpath was the tutor. His passion for the role was nurtured from there.
Gary is this week one of the main umpires at the Netball World Cup 2019 held in Liverpool, he said: “To be involved in a home World Cup whilst netball, particularly in England, is experiencing such incredible momentum from the fans, participants in the sport and people around the world is so exciting and a real honour.”