Gary Greville - My Redan Story
Tell us about your junior sporing days and did you play football growing up?
I was a football fanatic as a child and loved Geelong and Golden Point where I played all my junior footy from U12 to U16. My best memory was kicking four goals from the wing in one quarter in a losing side at Daylesford.
I was one of two representatives selected from Golden Point to try for interleague but with champion rovers like Peter Kiel, Gary Merriman Peter Blackburn David Jenkins and Gary Green and others, I was out of my league.
At Ballarat East High School I was a member of the 1st XI Cricket team which I believe is the only team to defeat St Pat's for the championship. I had a batting average of 286 in our school competition.
You’ve umpired in the BFL for many years, how old were you when you made your debut and how long before you umpired a senior match?
It was 1977 at age 20 and it only took me three weeks to umpire my first Senior BFL match on the boundary and I remember it well as I got a blood nose and nearly knocked out. I attempted to break up a fight between the back pocket player and resting forward pocket ruckman.
As he drew back his arm to knock him opponent into eternity his elbow hit my nose, blood everywhere. I will never forget the high pitched sound of the goal umpire Billy Gillard's flags as he belted them into the player's head about 6 times...lol.
I have now umpired about 400 senior matches and about 650 games in total excluding games in Prisons and Disabled games.
You became involved with Redan following the 1998 crisis meeting at the Western Oval Hall. Tell us about the evening and could you sense the club would turn things around in such a relatively short period of time?
What I did that night was put my hand up to help Redan and the BFL who could not afford to lose another club. I was appointed Senior Assistant Coach and tried to fulfil my goal of bringing a new person to the club every day.
I was helped by six mates from the Mt Clear Church of Christ who pulled on the boots and it was just about numbers and survival. I remember we had only seven at training one night and the turnaround in only four years to win a grand final was such a wonderful achievement. None of us expected that but the teamwork and dedication paid off.
What were some of the roles you undertook in those initial years and who were some of the other volunteers that stepped up and really impressed you that year?
Many roles including Senior Assistant Coach to Marty Cusack, Fitness adviser, runner, then Membership Recruitment Officer, U16 Assistant Coach to Barry Darken. Then started the league's first Cheer Squad and became the BFL's first Sports Chaplain/Welfare Officer.
I always remember the importance of picking up the rubbish and cleaning up the place, that was just as important. There were so many good people chipping in, of the new lot after 1998 Ian Gainey stands out, Julianne Forbes in the canteen but people like Trevor on the gate, Jeff with crook lungs yelling out, Warwick Remington, yourself, Tony Quinney, Raj Muker. One of my heroes was Justin Catley. Its embarrassing leaving so many out.
Tell us about your famous goals down at Sunbury in the midst of some blowout losses to the Eastern Lions. What positives (if any) can be taken out of regular heavy defeats like those which were common place around this time?
In my first game I came on the field in the second half and kicked a goal in my first 15 seconds. I was the first Redan player to kick a goal against Sunbury at Sunbury It was my only kick for the day. I was the only fit player so was tagged by three tall defenders for the rest of the day as we only had 15 players.
86 goals to one that day, about 240 goals to three in three games and I kicked them all at age 41, we had very little.
In my second game I kicked two goals, the only two for the day. In my third game they stuck me in the back pocket so I couldn't kick a goal but I still managed a point!
A very wise mentor of mine a tough old missionary lady from Spain taught me about perseverance and HOPE. Week two we lost our best three players to injury and another Senior player transferred employment.
I was a little embarrased to receive two awards when so many had done so much. Firstly the Country Footy Show awarded me "Country Victoria's Most Passionate Football Supporter" and I won the first nomination for "Legends Of Country Football", very humbling, but a little embarrassed.
The mountain peaks are so much higher and brighter when you've experienced such lows and crushing defeats that year.
At what age did you start drumming and who are some drummers who have inspired you throughout the years?
I remember being encouraged by a teacher in Primary School at age eight and soon after appeared on Channel 6 as the two/four man in our class, I remember freezing in front of the camera..lol.
I progressed to high school and joined the Orchestra and we won South Street twice and I received a commendation from the judges for my drumming. Then straight into bands every week playing at all the weddings dinner dances deb. balls etc for many years.
My favourite drummer was Warren Daly from the Daly Wilson Big Band, then Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.
Tell us about how the idea of drumming at Redan games first came about.
Following our first final win at the Eastern Oval over the raining Premier Melton, we met under the grandstand at the Eastern Oval and sang the song. Brett Quinlan thanked the older stalwarts who had done so much and endured for so long.
Brett then said that next week Darley will fill the grandstand with four busloads of supporters. COULD WE MAKE SOME NOISE OR SOMETHING! Ha! I owned "BANG-Ballarat Drum Company. I backed three drumkits up against the corrugated iron in the grandstand and we were all so embarrassed when we started towards the end of the seconds game.
The Redan runner came flying up the stairs and said "Gary do you mind stopping...the players can't hear the coach speaking". lol The League respectfully requested that I play the "furthest distance from the grandstand" in future.
What was the reaction like in those early days and what were you trying to achieve.
It was all about encouragement, motivation to victory through passion and love for the Redan Footy Club. After we beat Darley an old bloke came up into the grandstand and called me a bloody disgrace, told me he was reporting me to the BFL and those bloody drums don't belong here.
The second old bloke to walk up the grandstand was shaking and crying tears of joy and told me "you're the greatest man I've ever met"! The third person to walk up the stairs was a Darley supporter who grabbed my sticks, smashed them in two, threw the over the edge then tried to throw me and my drums out of the grandstand.
Police were notified, he went to the City Oval wanting to bash me, but I believe "Big O' put him into a different planet!
Which opposition clubs were most and least supportive of your drumming and is there a comment that sticks out in your mind that still makes you laugh?
Every time I went to Melton they begged me to come over near the grandstand cos the kids loved the drums! I didn't and obeyed the BFL directive.
Comments to remember...lots
a. Darley....you play those #$#@@## drums and I'll shove those sticks up your .....
b. Sunbury...see those U18 players over there, if you bring those drums to Sunbury there is a bounty on your head and the prize goes to the first one to smash you.
c. Melton South...could you shut up those drums my kids are in the car trying to sleep.
d. East Point...you won't be playing them in the Grand Final, we're getting you banned.
e. 2 am phone calls of all kinds....etc etc etc.
What was the biggest misconception about your drumming?
Drums don't belong at the football.
The flags also looked terrific, how much work went into those?
Lots of work. Probably partially responsible for my second divorce! I spent $500 making flags for the Sunbury Football Club at the 2004 Grand Final as a gesture of sportsmanship and to bring colour to the league, but never saw them again, and we lost!
The flags showed the pride in our club and many players loved them. A Darley supporter ran them over one day at City Oval in his 4WD and East Point supporters broke and took some after they lost the Grand Final.
Tell us about Grand Final day 2002 and what that victory meant for the club.
The joy was beyond belief and remains to this day. It meant that we had survived, climbed to the top of the mountain which no one saw coming and that all the hard work by so many had paid off.
Every single person at Redan was treasured. I loved watching Flogger (Peter Loughnan) and the good old boys take it in. It was like their grief had been lifted.
Take us through some of the other Grand Final wins and some of your highlights watching those sides in action.
In 2002 the first minutes of the last quarter when Jayden Reid took a great pack mark and converted, the crowd and cheer squad went ballistic. In 2006 I was banned from drumming at the Grand Final against East Point so built a massive flag to inspire and used a hammer on the fence and hidden cow bell under my jacket.
We were hardly ever the best side during those six premierships but our discipline and the spirit of our great little fun club got us up most times.
Who would be your top five players at Redan since you become involved in 1998?
Share with us your thoughts on our three most recent Premiership coaches in Brett, Kieran and Brendan?
They are all successful because they follow the Redan way. We are a very disciplined club and have twice won the prestigious award of "Most Disciplined Club In The State". Surround the club with people of good character.
What are you up to these days and are you still involved with football?
About to turn 60 and umpiring three games a weekend often. Still doing seniors, and sometimes the U18 in the morning due to a chronic shortage of umpires.
This year I will run 1,000 kms and umpire approximately 80 games. I am the Team Manager of the Ballarat Football Umpires Association and umpire with my son Matthew to improve his fitness.
What some of your other sporting achievement of which you are most proud?
1. Founding Member of the Alfredton Baseball Club and registered baseball coach. Played A grade in the Ballarat/Geelong competition.
2. A Grade Premiership player for Neil St. Tennis club.
Runner- up in Ballarat A Grade Singles Championship to my Coach Neil Stevens.
Ballarat Lawn Tennis Club Singles Champion four times, and seven Doubles and mixed titles.
Begonia Festival A Grade Tennis Champion. In the final which was one set up to 8 games I was behind 7-1 and down 15-40 and got up to win 9-7.
Ballarat Representative and country week.
3. A Grade Squash Premiership player and Captain.
Runner- up in Ballarat A Grade singles Championship to John Taylor (Victorian U19 Champion)
4. A Grade Racquetball Premiership player and Captain.
Runner-up in Ballarat A grade Singles Championship to Scott Mitchell (Australian U19 Champion).
5. A Grade Table Tennis Premiership player.
Won the B Grade Table Tennis Championship for Ballarat at Albert Park Melbourne for the first time in 36 years.
6. A Grade Volleyball Premiership player (twice)
7. Umpired numerous Senior Grand Finals and represented the Ballarat Football League at Interleague level.
8. Played cricket for only one year. In a representative side defeated by a combined Maryborough team, took 7-54 and clean bowled Garry Watts who went on to open the batting for Victoria.
At the age of 20 I was told I would never be able to run again. Then a year later broke my foot and lost mobility, then the next year suffered a neck injury followed by a motor vehicle accident so was incapacitated for four years.
How much has umpiring changed today from when you first started and what has been the biggest highlight of your umpiring career and has spectator behaviour improved over the years?
I trained so hard trying to get a game in 1977 I got locked out of the clubrooms and had to walk home seven miles to get mum to get my car keys. You sometimes couldn't get a game.
The game today has been destroyed as a spectacle by ex-footballers on the rules committee. Good players are scragged and if you kick four goals you are just about best on ground.
In the old days ten goals may not get you a vote. Football is no longer a good spectacle. And many don't know what a free kick is.
I have two equal highlights. I was always given tough games as I was one of only a few umpires who would report. It was a senior single umpire game at Pimpinio. I always acted on my instincts and as a once only gesture put the ball on the ground and refused to continue as a riot was about to occur. I maintained control all game.
The little fat ground manager ran to the centre keys jingling and put his arm around me. "If anyone but you had been umpiring here today we would of had the greatest bloodbath in history"! In the previous encounter the coach (a policeman) had been king hit behind play and had become a vegetable, and the was touted as the bloodbath rematch.
My favourite time in umpiring will always remain umpiring very wild and somewhat disadvantaged men in prisons. I was told by the head of the prison with my mentor Bill Sutcliffe (Director of Prison Fellowship Victoria) that since I had been doing such a good job with the prisoners all crime in the prison had stopped.
The week after I finished an 11 game season a riot broke out with mass stabbings and transfers!
The problem with spectators is they are human. Nothing has changed and this week I thought I was going to be assaulted again at a game after a spectator aggressively confronted me in the centre of the oval.
What advice would you have for boys and girls considering a career in umpiring?
It is fantastic for your fitness and character building. There are great opportunities to do AFL if you apply yourself and stick with it.
What advice would you have for the boys and girls starting their football and netball careers at Redan?
Play for the club, show sportsmanship and give it your best shot in training and on the day. Enjoy sport.