Faces of Tamworth: Sporting fan turned official Simon Hood

Passionate: Simon Hood can most Saturday's in winter be found at the scorers table for his beloved Tamworth Magpies. Photo: Gareth Gardner
Passionate: Simon Hood can most Saturday's in winter be found at the scorers table for his beloved Tamworth Magpies. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Simon Hood hasn’t let his inability to participate in sport stop him from being involved.

He’s just had to find other avenues.

Hood is a familiar face around the local sporting grounds and can usually in summer be found either out in the middle umpiring or dotting runs into the scorebook, and in winter scoring for his beloved Tamworth Rugby Union Sporting Club.

“Because I’ve been confined to wheelchair (the result of spinal complications at birth) for most of my life I haven’t been able to play the sports but I’ve still been able to follow them,” he said.

The 37-year old’s passion for sport was sparked at an early age.

And while he professes to liking pretty well all sports, although he admits he doesn’t really follow things like wrestling and boxing, cricket is his number one passion with rugby a close second.

“My love for cricket has always been there,” Hood said.

“Not being able to play the next best thing is to coach or score or umpire.”

He made his first foray into scoring in the 1995/96 season, scoring for his brother Nick’s City United fourth grade side.

From there the natural progression seemed umpiring.

“I spoke to Neville Pryor, who was the chief of umpires at the time and said I wanted to give it a go,” Hood said.

Seventeen at the time, he umpired juniors for a season before making the leap to grade cricket at 18.

Unlike scoring where you are out of harms way, there is a very real danger with umpiring especially when you don’t have the same mobility to move out of the way quickly if need be.

“The big thing with a wheelchair is you only have certain speeds you can go,” he said.

“It is a very big risk I take.”

But he is undaunted by it.

“I enjoy it because I’m in the middle being part of the game,” Hood said.

“I’m a terrible cricket watcher. If I watch I just drive around the field. I’d probably do 15 laps of the oval.”

Since 2007 Hood has also been involved with coaching the local junior rep sides.

“I love putting back into the game and showing the kids that somebody can do it,” he said.

Simon Hood with parents Lesley and Phil after receiving the Cara Hickson Memorial Award in 2016.

Simon Hood with parents Lesley and Phil after receiving the Cara Hickson Memorial Award in 2016.

He has over the years seen some a lot of talent come through, Josh Hazlewood and Erin Osborne two that spring to mind, and is a life member of both City United and the Tamworth & District Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association.

On the rugby front, Hood has been on the Magpies committee since 2005.

He was the club registrar for a number of years and manages their colts sides.

Hood also served as the Central North zone recorder for three years and has at times helped out in an officiating capacity as an assistant referee.

Listing David Boon as his hero growing up, Hood has got to meet him a couple of times, which was great he said.

He was also at the Sydney Cricket Ground the night Michael Bevan entered Australian cricket folklore with his last ball four off of Roger Harper.

“I was only 14 at the time. That game had everything,” he said.

“I was in tears because I had paid all this money to go to the cricket and it was raining and I didn’t think they were going to play. Then it turned out to be one of the best games.”

“I have also had the privilege of watching a game at Lords.”

One of the world’s most prestigious grounds and the home of cricket, Hood said it was a great experience.

“The best thing I did was go to the 2000 Paralympics. It was great to be able to see these people in a very similar position if not worse get out and have a go,” he said.

On that note he said it was fantastic to see the inclusivity at the recent Commonwealth Games with the para-sport medals contributing to the overall medal tally.

Hood also helps out at the annual Sunnyfield Sports Day and in 2016 received the prestigious Cara Hickson Memorial Award for special achievement in sport at the Tamworth Regional Sports Awards. 

“That was really special,” he said.

“Mum made the joke I can’t believe you do so much.”

“But I don’t do it for the recognition. I do it because I love it,” he said, adding that he needs to thank his dad Phil.

“He knows that sport is my passion. He takes me anywhere,” he said.

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