Eugene Grigg - My Redan Story
What are some of your earliest football memories growing up?
My family lived in Linton but I don’t remember going to the football before 1965, although Linton won their first premiership in 40 years in 1962. My grandfather Bill was Vice President of the Club and a Life Member of Linton and the Western Plains League. Dad played with Linton with his brothers during late 1940’s, early 50’s.
My younger brothers and local kids would kick a plastic football at the side of our house on a stony gravel road. In 1965 Linton played in the Under 16 Grand Final versus Derrinallum. I was 10 and missed out on getting a game. I cried!
Ian Burt, who started his football at Redan, was head teacher at Linton and coach of Daylesford took me to a practice match with his family to Camperdown, probably around 1966.
Tell us about how you made your way to Redan.
I only spent "five minutes" at the club. I lived at Linton and from 1965 when ten years old played with them and Carngham Linton from 1969. At 19 years old I played in their first senior premiership in 1974. This was in the Western Plains Football League.
Carngham Linton played finals consistently and won the premiership again in 1976. Runners up in 1977 and 1979. I was approached to coach Bradvale in 1980 where my wife's family had a farm. We won one or two games that year and I saw no future staying there.
I thought it was too early to go back to Carngham Linton to play and thought I would try out in the Ballarat League in 1981 as a 26 year old. 40 years next year!!
John Northey was coaching Redan again and as he was highly regarded thought I would try out there. So I just turned up. Other than knowing Daryl Fenton who was a young recruit from Carngham Linton, I didn't really know anyone else.
What are some of your recollections of that season?
Training started in November, three nights a week with lots of running. We saw a lot of the surrounds of Ballarat and knew our way around the lake. Redan was a bit of an unknown when compared to other teams. The winter turned the City Oval into a bog so we trained at the Western Oval until that was a bog. We ended up training at the Army Reserve paddock next to St Pat’s College.
I played every game in the seniors and made it to the Grand Final to be beaten by Golden Point. We led the second semi final as I remember until the final few minutes when Daryl Cunningham took Mark of the Day sitting on my shoulders and kicked a goal to put them in front. Disappointing as things may have been different if we had won!
In Grand Final team photo I am second from left back row next to Greg Packham. John had Laurie Prosser as fitness coach who was highly respected and made me aware of the importance on fitness for football.
That year along with a few of the 1970s era premiership players were also Don Discher, Greg Packham, Phillip Walsh etc.
At end of year presentation, my family won a trophy as the best family as my wife and three children regularly attended games and after match presentations in the rooms at the Western Oval.
Redan treated me very well. Not sure what year it was but after success with Carngham Linton I was invited as guest speaker at Redan’s Presentation night.
What made John Northey such a successful coach?
When I went to Redan John had already great success. I was prepared to do whatever it took to succeed and was self motivated to a degree. Having said that he was held in high esteem and had great faith in his players. When my form dropped off during the season, rather than dropping me back to the reserves he moved me off the ball to a back flank. There I found consistency again.
Describe yourself as a footballer.
As a footballer I was not the most talented early on. Could only kick on my left foot. Certainly not the quickest, but perhaps read the game ok. As time went on I improved because my fitness did. We were going out of an era of mark, kick football to a running game and I adapted to that quicker than others. An aim of mine was to become efficient with kicking with my right foot but I ran out of time! The year at Redan gave me some self belief in my ability although I always had self doubts.
Who are the best five players you shared a field with during your time in football?
As I was only at Redan in 1981, hard to name any of those players in best five.
Phil Walsh was talented but I was surprised he was drafted to Collingwood. Then he went onto being their best first year player, won a Best & Fairest at Brisbane eventually coaching the Adelaide Crows until his tragic death.
Carngham Linton in 1982 won the premiership undefeated, closest winning margin around 40 points. In that side who would later play Ballarat League were Greg Dax, Darren Quilliam, Errol Burns who also played at Redan, Ian Matthews (whose sons play/played at Redan also went on to play BFL at Beaufort). Michael O’Brien and Shaun Dummett would play seniors in 1983.
Greg Currie was 17 years old in that side and win nine club Best & Fairests. They were all top class. Greg Dax would later coach Minyip to their first flag in forty odd years.
Can you tell us about your football career post 1981?
At the end of that year I applied for coaching job at Carngham Linton and was appointed. We won the 1982 premiership. Again in 1983, 1984 under Michael Hirst, me again in 1985 and Runners Up in 1986 my last year as coach.
Certainly that one year at Redan had a great influence on my future coaching and playing life.
How much of a thrill was it to see Shaun’s AFL career unfold and did you get along to any of his Redan games in 2019?
I didn’t see Shaun through his junior career as we were living in Warrnambool from 1988. My son Damian is a keen Tiger supporter even before Shaun went to Richmond so it made it easy when he was playing there.
For anyone to play over 200 AFL games is a tremendous effort. The thrill we had in him playing AFL was as much for Pete and Robyn for the effort they put in and the joy they got out of it. Who knows now where his career will go!
What are you up to these days and are you still involved with football?
As well as living in Warrnambool we return to Linton most weekends. My work as a Radiographer is coming to an end so life hopefully will enable us to spend more time with our six children and their families.
Early on in Warrnambool I became involved with Deakin University football team. They were able to play off in three grand finals in the early 2000’s without winning one. After 15 years there it was time to go back home!
What advice do you have for the boys and girls starting their careers at Redan?
Advice to young ones starting with Redan is to enjoy yourself. This is where you can make friends for life. Listen to coaches who are there to help and don’t be frightened to ask them questions. Believe in yourself and keep trying to improve.