Bernie Massey - My Redan Story
Where did you grow up and what are some of your earliest footy memories and highlights?
I grew up in sunny Mildura. Playing footy at Gol Gol Primary School in the Magpie colours. Rolling in Gentleannies (prickles) every time you got tackled.
Did you play senior football prior to joining Redan and had you played in a Premiership side?
I had played 130 Senior games for South Mildura, 20 for Mulgrave in the EDFL and 30 for Traralgon where I was lucky enough to play in a Premiership.
Who or what was it the convinced you to join Redan and what were your first impressions of the club?
I had played against “ The Champ” Tim Brooks in Mildura and he and a few of the boys took me to the Sporting Tavern after training and I liked their easy going hospitality and a few frothies and decided to sign with Redan instead of North Ballarat and Golden Point who were scaring me with the amounts of money they were offering.
Your first season under David Blackburn saw the side play finals while in 1984 made it to the Grand Final falling to North Ballarat. Tell us about those first couple of seasons and playing the 1984 Grand Final.
The first year I played under David Blackburn and we had a very good team with Herby Packham and Gerard Cahir returning from St Kilda. North beat us by twelve goals on a very wet day and were just poles apart from the rest of the competition. You couldn’t get the ball off them because of their all-round skill.
They were playing possession footy ten years before it became the norm.
Over your next five seasons with Redan, you played under five different senior coaches. How did the constant change affect the playing group and which of these coaches had the greatest influence on you?
Five coaches in five years is clearly not the most stabilising thing a club can have.
Ian Baker – the consummate professional with lots of knowledge from his AFL days.
Barry Stevens - kicked a good drop kick at training – called him Saddles??
John Reid – still keep in touch today, great Coach, great bloke! Well organised and I used a lot of his notes later when coaching myself.
Rick Gervasoni – I coached the Reserves that year while playing Seniors. Exhausting!
John Burt - a Redan legend. But we were on the decline.
You won the Dalton-Bayly Medal in 1985, how much of an honour was this and how did that season rate across your entire career?
Winning the Dalton Bayly was the highlight of my playing career. I must thank Baden Annand for giving me such good supply and enabling to hold down the Centre against some formidable teammates.
Who were some of the best players you played alongside and who were some of your toughest opponents?
Greg Packham –skilled tough rover.
Gerard Cahir – tough, high marking, long kicking CHF.
Tim Brookes – tough straight ahead HBF or Centre.
Barry Caldwell – well balanced Centreman, accumulator of possessions.
Nigel Van Der Veer – a head tougher than a cat's skull and very skilful.
Robert Biggs –had everyone looking over their shoulder.
Malcolm Scott- big strong CHF who I regularly sat in the hole in front of at Bacchus Marsh.
Carl Symons – strong as an Ox and ploughed through the Eastern Oval bog heap with ease.
Tony Howlett – great kick with great goal sense.
How would you describe yourself as a player?
I think my greatest attribute as a player was my ability to read the play. While I may have been
relatively quick at the start of my senior career as a 16 year old, the same can’t be said towards the end of my career. Reasonably strong overhead with an accurate kick with a determination to get to as many contests a quarter that I could.
You coached the reserves in 1988, was this your first coaching appointment and what are some of your memories of that season?
When I was appointed Reserves Coach I loathed public speaking so for the first couple of weeks I took the players onto the ground to address them prior to the game. It was exhausting trying to Coach and organize and then have any energy left to play Seniors. It was a great learning curve and I thank the Club for the grounding.
Carngham Linton appointed you head coach in 1990. Tell us about your time with the club and some of the highlights?
I left Redan half way through 1989 and played in a Premiership at Carngham. The next year I was appointed Coach and in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year won the Premiership with a team of locals.
What was the biggest similarity with and difference between the two clubs?
I suppose the main difference was that at Redan there was a greater degree of professionalism than that at a country club. Both places enjoyed a frothie or two! The next year we were runner up after being out of the four, three quarters through the year.
I was asked back about four years later and was lucky enough to win another premiership. Good times!
By the late 1990s you returned to Redan when the club was at a particularly low ebb. In what way did you become involved and what were some of the decisions that led the dramatic turnaround?
I returned to Redan after a crisis meeting was called by then President Flogger. It was a very moving night for me and I couldn’t bear to see a Club with such history go to the wall.
Tell us about your recollections of the meeting.
I remember Ron Delaland getting up and saying that you can contribute in two ways - 1. money or 2. time and effort.
As a recent divorce had left me with very little of 1, I found some like minded people in Tony Quinney and Raj Muker and went for option 2. We had the option to basically fold that night or come up with a plan to settle/administer our way out of a massive, massive debt.
The most successful fundraiser we ran was when we invited John “Swooper” Northey back and with a lot of people's help we raised over $30,000 in one night. I would like to have a night for all those that helped throughout the next three or four years when the club turned its fortunes around.
Graham Pyers, Jeff Lillingston, Trevor Booth and Gary Jones were just a few that have never really been acknowledged (and many others that are still at Redan today).
By far the biggest turning point on field came when I managed to convince one Brett Quinlan to consider coaching us. Brett can tell his own story but he saw it as the ultimate challenge and brought his right hand man and current President Damian “Piggy “ Linton with him.
The rest as they say is history but I really believe what transpired would make a great Hollywood movie. It should never be underestimated in what was done in the next ten years to stage where today the Club provides an avenue for 28 teams to have fun and keep fit, learn team rules and discipline in their lives.
The connection to North Ballarat that Brett brought was immense and provided for the success we had under Kieran Murrihy and others. It is probably the greatest thing I have been involved with in my life and I feel very honoured to have been a part of it.
On a few occasions yourself and some committee men even had to pull on the boots to help field a side?
Pymie, Gary Greville and myself did pull the boots on occasions in the Magoos as quite often we had to drag people off the streets to play. I didn’t need a lot of convincing as I just loved playing and would still be playing today if Brett hadn’t have told me I should “hang em up as you are making a bloody fool of yourself “ Hard truths hey! ha ha
Take us through some of the roles you have had with the club.
My roles at the Club have been many and varied. Player (you play as long as you can then if you are lucky you Coach then you Administer).
I ran lots of Footy Trips away, Social Committee for years, Reserves Coach, Board Member on and off since the second year I came to the club 33 years ago. Past Players Committee etc but nothing when I look at the likes of John Lawless and Flogger etc.
Describe what the 2002 Premiership did for the club, especially for the stalwarts who had stuck with the club during the lean times?
The 2002 Premiership was truly an amazing experience and a huge reward for Brett and his assistants for their belief, effort and downright stupidness for taking on what most believed to be an impossible task. For the “old Redanies “ it was a huge reward for hanging in there and contributing over so many years.
How do you feel the sides of 2002-2011 compare against some of the North Ballarat sides you faced in the 80s and saw dominate in the 90s?
I have massive respect for the North Ballarat teams that dominated the 80’s and 90’s but firmly believe that strength comes from above (the Board) and for Redan to win six Premierships in ten years should never be underestimated. We have had some tremendous players pass through the City Oval.
Who are the best players you have seen during your time at the club?
Some of the better players I have seen at Redan have been Greg Packham, Gerard Cahir, Sam Ellis, Jayden Reid, Julian Field, Jarrod Edwards, Nathan Horbury and Chippy (Ash) Barker.
Describe the honour of being made a Redan Life Member.
Receiving Life Membership to the RFNC was an extremely humbling experience. To be placed into an elite group of people that have done huge things for Redan over such a large period of time was very moving.
The Club has done much more for me than I could ever do for it.
What are you doing with yourself these days and are you still involved with the club?
I am currently Manager of Harcourts Real Estate at Buninyong but probably do more sales in and around Ballarat. I got off the Board this year but still try to jump behind the Bar for a couple of hours after home games.
I usually get roped into MC'ing the Dalton Bayly Medal night and am happy to help out in any way possible. I took a step back this year as my son is playing for Newlyn and I like to get out and watch him on occasions.
What is the best piece of advice you were given as junior player?
My best piece of advice I could give a junior player (other than always wear clean jocks - thanks Mum) would be to enjoy yourself and if you have a chance to take your career further work hard and sacrifice now as you only get out of it what you put into it. Same goes for anything in life!
P.S. One memory that I will always hold close to my heart is that after being smashed for years we were playing Sunbury at Sunbury. A very unhospitable place where they used to taunt us and call us North Ballarat seconds.
Jayden Reid and Sammy Ellis swapped possies at CHF and CHB and just crunched packs all day. They had Sunbury too frightened to go near the ball. The crowd quieted. We won and we were on our way! Go lions!!