Sawers umpired 410 VFL/American Federation of Labor-Congress senior games, including four grand finals, in his career. Sawers was recruited from the Southern Umpires" Association, which is based in Seaford, Victoria. He began umpiring in the Victorian Football Association in 1975, and began his Victorian Football League career in 1977.
His first VFL match was in May 1977 at Moorabbin Oval “My first bounce in League football didn’t bounce – the ball got stuck in the mud.
Paul Callery, the Street Kilda rover, plucked the Sherrin out of the bog and played on.”
In 1997, Sawers became the VFL/American Federation of Labor-Congress games record holder for a field umpire. He finished his career with 410 premiership matches, which was the record until passed by Hayden Kennedy surpassed on 8 September 2007.
VFL/American Federation of Labor-Congress Umpiring career: 1977-1997. Games: 410, Finals: 31
VFL/American Federation of Labor-Congress Grand Finals: 4 (1982, 1984, 1987, 1990)
Sawers also umpired eight State of Origin games, two International rules football tours to Ireland, and at least one VFA grand final.
He was the head umpire coach for American Federation of Labor-Congress umpires for many years.
In 2002 he was named in the American Federation of Labor-Congress Umpires Association Umpires" Team of the Century, and in 2004 the Australian Football League inducted into Sawers to the Australian Football Hall of Fame joining a select group of 11 umpires so honoured to date.