Brett Dickinson- My Redan Story
Where did you grow up and what are some of your earliest footy memories?
I grew up in Numurkah which is about twenty minutes north of Shepparton. My earliest footy memories would be trying to kick rocks in the back yard and then later developing into being able to kick a footy in our back block with probably the biggest impact on my footy life is my father.
I was that kid who would kick the footy up in the air to himself waiting for Dad to get home from work and then we would kick back and forth for hours after school until it was dark and time to go inside.
Did you play any senior football prior to joining Redan?
I played a bit of senior footy in high school as a 16, 17 and 18 year old before moving away to Ballarat for University. I remember playing as a 16 year old kid in my first senior game of footy for Numurkah with my then hero at the time my cousin Steve Dickinson who was Captain of the senior team and he actually gave my first ever kick in senior footy. I still remember it clearly and a very special memory.
Who or what was it that convinced you to come and play with Redan and what was your first impression of the club?
When I first moved to Ballarat my ambitions were admittedly a bit bigger than my ability. I did a bit of a preseason at the Roosters but was living on campus at University at the time and felt very excluded from University life with Gavin Crosisca’s rules and restrictions.
I was living with Matt Dwyer and a great mate of mine Jarrett Giampaolo at the time and my Residential Supervisor Matt Harkin was also at Redan. That combination along with the fact that five car loads of boys headed in to training at City Oval was pretty attractive to me so I ended up at Redan.
Do you recall a particular game during your first season with the club where you felt the side was going to win the Premiership?
I don’t recall a particular game as they are all a bit of a blur to be honest but if I had to try and pick one it may have been two separate finals I played in during premiership years. One was a final where we arm wrestled with East Point all day who were simply an awesome team of stars that were favourites all year but we got over the line in a kick after the siren. I guess then I knew we were the real deal.
Another was a final where played Darley at the Eastern Oval to get into the Grand Final but this was the complete contrast to the East Point one in that we absolutely steam rolled the Devils and launched into a Grand Final. Same thing though, after that I knew we were a serious chance. I guess I never got too carried away and tried to stick to the old cliché of taking it one week at a time.
What are your memories from the Grand Final itself and the celebrations that followed?
I still to this day always think that your first premiership is your best one and that feeling for the first ten minutes or so when the siren sounds and the mayhem and chaos erupts on the oval of blokes elated and jumping for joy together with having finally achieved what they had set out to do is really special. Best feeling I have ever had in footy.
I remember still feeling a bit awe struck as a 19 year old kid running around in the ruck battling away whilst Dan Jordan was at one end kicking goals and we had Julian Field and the likes running around with us. The BFL comp standard was elite then.
One memory I held onto was the celebrations back at Kieran Murrihy’s house on his back deck. We had partied into the next morning and the sun was now up but many of us were in a less than ideal state and Ash Barker had gotten hold of a paint brush and some white paint and wandered around lathering blokes up at random. I had some white paint end up on my premiership jumper from that night that I didn’t stress too much about trying to wash out as I enjoyed the reminder of the good times it represented.
The side went back to back under Kieran Murrihy the following year against Sunbury. What do you think was the key to the success of that group managing to go back to back against some very good sides?
“Well done. That was a tough premiership” Muzz said to us in the rooms at the end of that one. And he was right. We lost ten players from our senior team the previous year and still managed to defend our title. Muzz was the key to that for me. He had an ability to get the most out of individuals and do it in different ways that suited each person. He could get stuck into blokes that would respond to a rocket and then he could also pump you up and give you confidence if you needed that.
We also had elite midfields with real depth in both years. Our A graders would start in the middle but then our B graders came in they could be just as good and we could tear sides up. I also firmly believe that really good back lines win premierships. Everyone tries to score goals but the team that can shut down an opposition the best and defend first ultimately ends up on top. We had this in both years in our defenders in Nunny, Gibba, Pitty early on and then Patty Britt, Dean and Joel Matthews etc. in later years
What are your memories of the heart stopping victory over Sunbury in 2011?
I took a back seat in this one. I had spent most of the year at centre half back and a bit of time in the ruck with Killer (Anthony Killmartin) but when Sticks (Nick) Bye came good come finals I spent a fair bit more time on the bench.
I remember late in the game the ball being locked in our forward line and there was just ball up after ball up time and again but Sunbury hacked a kick down to their half forward line and Dean Chester took off like a hare and ran as fast as I had ever seen him go to beat Sunbury players to the ball and kick it back into our forward line. Then the siren went and we were all immersed in the mayhem and chaos once again.
Talk us through some of the coaches you had during your time with the maroon and gold and the influence they had on your football.
Kieran Murrihy coached me in 2006 and 2007 and is still to this day the best coach I have had. Organised, intelligent, motivational but above all was able to get the most out of each of his players in different ways according to how they best responded. He was a good people reader.
Shane Snibson coached me for a few games when I would come back from the Roosters reserves in 2008 and told me off for kicking a torpedo out of full back one day which I probably deserved!
Brendan Peace I played under as well on and off from 2009 – 2012 when I think he joint coached with Gilly and he had another different style again which was still obviously very good and his record speaks for itself. Peacey led by example in the way he played and always got the best out of his teams.
Eamonn Gill coached me in my final years at Redan until I moved on at the end of 2014. I must admit I was sceptical about how Gilly would go coming up from the reserves as a senior coach but can honestly say I rated him only second to Muzz for me. Gilly worked with me in conversations all the time as to how we could keep getting better during games and I felt he gave me a lot of trust and faith to just play my best footy and work with/lead the younger blokes.
Who are the top five Redan players you played alongside (with a sentence or two on each) and your toughest BFL opponent?
My toughest opponents would be two ruckmen I had many battles with. Patty Carris from Sunbury purely because he was just so bloody big and I was always a bit undersized as a ruckman. Paul Koderenko from East Point was also an opponent I battled with on many occasions and actually busted my jaw in one game. We were always an arm wrestle and one would come out on top but it was never by much.
Top five is tricky to rank in order but the five in no particular order and with a bit of a spread of different positions it would be something like…
Julian Field – hard, tough, classy, skilful, smart, cheeky, competitive and always a great teammate to all players.
Jarrod Edwards – he and I worked in tandem for years in the ruck and rover roles at stoppages and he was just an accumulator of possessions that you couldn’t stop.
Grant Bell – I probably saw the best in Belly having known his talent before he came to Redan. He has a natural talent and hand eye coordination a cut above the rest and when he runs hot he is unstoppable.
Matt Dwyer – his 2007 grand final was phenomenal. So much poise and class and never stopped finding the footy and would often hurt sides by kicking goals.
Patty Britt would be up there for mine to as a defender. I saw others come and go but during the time I played with him he was very rarely beaten and held that high standard for a long time.
You played in the BFL interleague side in 2006 and 2007, tell us about this experience and also your time with North VFL.
I was only just in these sides but at the same time very appreciative of the experience. 2006 we played a round robin style tournament in Albury and I played one or two games but was only an emergency or bench player.
The following year we played one game against Bendigo Football League and I played about half a game and got to do a few good things. I really enjoyed both years and highly recommend to all blokes to play interleague footy when it pops up because it may never again.
I was also just a battler at North Ballarat in the reserves. I wanted to test myself and “find my ceiling” to see how far I could go with my footy I guess and I achieved that goal of finding out. I made some good mates at North Ballarat but as a player I always battled with the pace and standard along with the ever changing teams due to blokes trying to push into senior VFL teams. I was captain of the reserves in the year we made it to a preliminary final in 2009 which was a great experience but as mentioned as a player I think I was out of my depth.
Describe yourself as a footballer?
Ruckman who although at times undersized works hard to expose opponents around the ground. Competitor who always puts team first.
Did Redan see the best of your football career?
Yes. My best year was ironically when my body was in its worst shape. I had very bad tendonitis in my knee as a result of repeated ruckwork to the point that if I hadn’t stopped and rested I was told I may snap it and have trouble walking thereafter. Despite this, I managed to work through and finish runner up in the best and fairest to one of our on ballers in Callum Currie in 2014.
The culture of the club has been spoken of often in these interviews, how can you best describe it and the role it played in those premierships?
We were all mates at Redan. Always. That held us a in good stead in any hard fight. Other clubs may have paid money or had players there for different reasons but we were always playing together and pushing for premierships because we were great mates and wanted to do our best for each other more than for ourselves.
We genuinely wanted the bloke beside us to achieve success and I think that flows through the whole club beyond just the footballers. People care about each other and want them to do well at Redan so they work hard to help them get there.
Aside from the three flags, what are some of your other greatest memories of your time with the club?
I didn’t venture on many footy trips but the one we spent in Cairns at the end of 2012 was a great time with a great bunch of blokes.
Being named in the team of the decade was a great honour. Lorne training camps for some reason although very hard at times I thoroughly enjoyed. Last man Standing draws at the Den were always great fun days.
Tell us about where you’ve played following your time after Redan and some the highlights?
I took a year off in 2015 to rehab my knee and then had also always wanted to try and do an Ironman triathlon so worked towards achieving that goal in 2016. I played the latter half of 2016 up home in Numurkah given that my folks are still living there, the current coach was a guy I played with in my high school years that I really liked and still have enormous respect for to this day, as well as trying to get back into the rigors of shorter sharper movements with footy.
2017 and this year I am playing assistant coach at Prahran Assumption Football Club in the VAFA. I work closely with another PE teacher who is the head coach and we were able to win another flag last year in 2017 which was great fun.
What are you up to these days, where are your based and are you still playing?
Still playing at Prahran Assumption Football Club based in Toorak. I am really enjoying a bit of a dusty year for me last year and now feeling reasonably fresh again in the body hopefully before a solid season. I am loving having a go at elements of coaching in my role at Prahran. I live in Flemington and still work as PE teacher at a Catholic Co-educational school in Melbourne’s north.
Do you see coaching as something you would like to get into in the coming years?
The more I sink my teeth into it the more I think it could be a possibility in the near future but I have always thought if I did try and coach I would like to try and do it whilst still playing so now at 30 years of age I guess I better get a wriggle on. Maybe but still unsure if I’d be any good. See what happens I guess.
Do you have a theory as to why there are so few head coaches who were ruckmen during their playing days, do you agree with Orren Stephenson who puts this down to there simply being fewer to begin with?
I would agree with O in that there simply are less of them. Perhaps we fall under the stereo type of too big and slow and dumb but on the flip side of that I have always thought a lot of ruckman go unnoticed in the work they do to construct a game so maybe they’d be very good. Don’t know the exact answer here.
What is the best piece of advice you have the boys and girls starting their football careers at Redan?
Two things mainly resonate as the biggest lessons Redan taught me in life greater than footy.
Make some great mates. Form strong friendships so that you can enjoy your footy more than any other reason than having success with great mates.
Get to know the older men and women or people behind the scenes at Redan. Without them the club probably wouldn’t be there at all and they are what allows you to have such enjoyment.