Brett Stone - My Redan Story
Where did you grow up and what are some of your earliest footy memories and highlights?
I grew up in the Mallee and played my football for Walpeup/ Underbool. I played quite a few seconds games with my Dad and even one senior game. A country club is a special place. The whole town evolves around the local football team.
Where does your nickname Grassy come from?
Back in the 1960's a teacher said my dad was as mad as a grass seed at school one day so he became 'Grassy' and eventually I did too.
Did you play any senior footy elsewhere and had you been part of a premiership side?
I started playing senior football for Walpeup Underbool at age 16 and played in a losing Grand Final team versus Manangatang. I played in two Under 16 premierships. After Redan I played at Ormond in the Amateurs and missed out on any major success.
Who or what was it that attracted you to Redan and what were your initial impressions of the club?
I had a few friends from University playing there and I came in half way through the 1997 season. Dave Atchia was probably the one who convinced me to join the club.
Redan had a reputation for having a lot of fun off field. Maybe too much fun.
Season 1997 was a tough one for Redan failing to win a match. How hard did you find that first season with the club and who were some of the players who really impressed you in the face of adversity?
It was very difficult and the cold winter trainings were hard to front up to. Jay Dineen was tough midfielder, Bobby O'Brien never gave up and Tugga (Andrew Teggelove) was competitive. Willow (Adam Wilson) was a good young player.
The following season was no better, once again the side failed to win a match and copped plenty of heavy losses. Is it possible to enjoy your footy and develop as a player when you a losing by over 30 goals most weeks?
Very difficult. Tried to have the little wins each quarter. Minimise the damage of the other team. It is never enjoyable to lose like that.
We looked forward to playing the teams who were struggling like us. But everyone had opportunity to play a variety of roles and play against some really good players. It was clear we needed to be fitter and stronger to compete at that level.
Following the 1998 forfeit to Darley and subsequent crisis meeting, could you sense that club was about to turn its stocks around as quickly as it did?
I think the introduction of a heap of under 18 players who came across from North (I think) gave the club hope. The Under 18 group had some quality young players and it was a great mix of players.
Most of those players stuck around to be premiership players in the seniors years later. Whoever was in charge of that recruiting needs a plaque on the wall in the den.
Guys would often play reserves and seniors during these seasons. Did you yourself and how much of a struggle was this?
Yes, I remember a trip away to Melton South we had to. It was exhausting and not ideal preparation for the main game.
What are your memories of the Daylesford win in 1999 and if you’ve played in premiership, how did it compare?
It was a great feeling. We had several Under 18 players play and they were brilliant. It would be one of my favourite games to be part of. This was the day that you really felt there was change ahead.
What do you remember of the night Redan were on the Footy Show and do you recall much of what you said?
Stephen Alessio arrived on the Western Oval by Helicopter to interview us that year. I remember him joking with us about Bobby playing in the ruck and also asking 'how did you go singing the song,' and I said 'we had to hand out hard copies of the lyrics so we all knew the words'. We got a few laughs.
You played under three coaches in three seasons, tell us a little about Matt Jones, Marty Cusack and Barry Hills and the great job they did keeping the side together.
They were all very positive despite the heavy losses. Matt Jones was always about setting realistic goals for the team, Marty Cusack had the most difficult job of all and Barry Hills attracted a few extra players to the club, which started to set a tone that Redan is a place you could enjoy your football again.
Who was the best player you played alongside in your three seasons with the club?
He only played two or three games and his name was Mark Parriman. He was amazing, but unfortunately was injured for most of the season. Bobby O'Brien never gave up.
You were a classy midfielder and played on some great opponents during your three seasons with the club. Who do you rate as your toughest opponents?
Wayne Cracknell from Bacchus Marsh, Craig Berger from Melton. I actually play with him now in Clubbies for Prahran.
How much of an honour was it to Captain the side in 1999 and what was your approach to keeping the side united and giving their best effort week in week out?
It was hard to stay positive. I tried to lead by example and tried to encourage others. I was 21 years old at the time, but I enjoyed the responsibility and proud to be given the opportunity.
Some of the other interviews with your teammates touched on the characters in that group and the role they played in keeping spirits high. Can you recall any particular incidents typical of this?
Our last game of the 1997 season against Melton South someone put on Cat Stevens 'Father and Son' and we all started singing it before we ran out. We played a great game to be down by a goal at three quarter time, but lost by four or five goals.
Melton South were pretty good then. Even though we lost we sang the song. We sang the song a lot on Saturday nights after a few extra beers. Singing the song wasn't our problem, playing the game was. The nude runs at Western Oval were refreshing.
Also the likes of Flogger, Ted, Bob and Fred helped keep spirits high around the club during those tough days.
You moved on the following season and missed out on the side’s climb back up the ladder. Are there any regrets about not being at Redan in 2002 and possibly being part of a premiership?
No regrets. It was very difficult playing football like that. I was done and enjoyed a new start.
I went to play in the Amateurs which was higher standard and enjoyed not being hit behind the back of the head so much, which the outer Melbourne sides tended to dish up even when they were smashing us!
Have you managed to see any of the subsequent Redan premierships and what was it like to see your old side up on the dais?
Yes. I came to a few of the close ones against Sunbury. It was great to see us beating Sunbury having them caused our heavier defeats.
Tell us about your football career post Redan and some of the highlights.
I played three years with Ormond then an early retirement. I moved overseas. I was living in Thailand and played for the Thailand Tigers which was a lot of fun.
We played against the Cambodian Kangaroos, Laos Elephants, Singapore Wombats and Vietnam Swans. It was great and amazing how I knew people in the other teams. We played an ANZAC game at Kanchanaburi (near Burmese Railway). An amazing experience.
Are you still involved with a club and is there a desire to get into coaching if you haven’t done so already?
I started playing Clubbies for Prahran of late despite saying 'never again' following a broken rib playing for the Wombats in 2009.
It is good fun. I have coached school football and lucky enough to coach three premierships in a row. It is something I am interested in, but it is a massive commitment and I respect everyone who volunteers for the job.
What are you up to these days and where are your based?
I work in Keilor as a school teacher at Overnewton and live in North Carlton, but have just bought a place in Mt Helen so I am moving back to the Rat in September. Jay Dineen started a year after I began teaching there.
I often talk to my students about Isaac Smith's pathway from Redan and how he had to bide his time at local club level before moving to North Ballarat ahead of the draft.
I am married to Melissa and have a daughter Mia. Melissa's father is Noel Deutscher who still is in involved at Redan.
Many of these interviews have featured coaches with a teaching background. Alistair Clarkson and more recently Brendon Bolton are two examples of teachers making it as AFL Coaches. Is the AFL missing out on something due to most coaches being past players (and full time professionals) with no time for a second career such as teaching?
Bolton and Brendan McCartney are both teachers and are both recognised of being good communicators. There are a lot of skills which you need for teaching which are the same for coaching. So I am not surprised of how he is doing.
What is the best piece of advice you would have for the boys and girls starting their football and netball careers with Redan?
Get some good winter clothing for training. Embrace the mud.