Geoff Smith - My Redan Story
Tell us about your earliest football memories and highlights of your junior career?
My early football memories are probably very similar to most young wannabe stars: go and get as muddy as you can in the centre, and when you can't tell what number you're wearing, you've done your job.
It all began in the illustrious Bendigo suburb of White Hills. Named after it's expansive terrain filled with gold. That was until the gold rush.
Anyway, the White Hills Junior Football Club was where I developed my game to become a slow, small and un-intimidating footballer with a slightly above average kick over 25 metres.
My highlight was tagging Joel Selwood in an Under 15.5 game at Scott Street Oval. The coach had pumped me up all week for the job. I was ready. Go and get him. I wore him tight that day, everywhere he went I was there. Forward, back, midfield, I had him.
The score was not important, but I did my job. The umpires saw it differently, awarding Selwood three votes at the league count. Not sure what game they were watching.
Tell us about the move from Bendigo to Ballarat?
So after an upbringing of BMX Bikes, kick serves and drop punts, I wanted to further my education at one of the state's best education institutions. They were all full, so I ended up heading to the University of Ballarat, which offered as many night time activities as they did lectures. Fortunately lectures weren't compulsory.
After studying Sport Management for three years, I realised I still wasn't ready to leave the University lifestyle, so took on the role as Sport & Recreation Officer. Something Waighty took advantage of when University Games came along, somehow earning a role as an 'Assistant'.
Who or what was it that attracted you to Redan and what were your initial impressions of the club?
When I arrived at Uni, the boss of my Hall was none other than famous Redan figure Matt 'Harko' Harkin. Keen to get on his good side early, Harko took me under his wing and led me to City Oval for pre-season training.
I remember rocking up and Harko introduced me to coach Kieran 'Muzza' Murrihy and the group. I just remember Muzza having this big smile on his face. I don't think he could believe how a 45 kilo kid could pull off a Bonds blue singlet so well. It was the first and only time I saw him smile in four years.
You played quite a lot of reserves football before establishing yourself as a senior player, what did you need to improve on to make that transition?
In my first year at Redan in 2006, I missed out on a spot in the ressies Grand Final. I'd always been a pretty good trainer, but that probably spurred me to train even harder, particularly in the gym to put some size on.
Paul 'Squeek' McMahon and myself spent many a session in the clubhouse gym, lifting bulk weights and solving many of life's mysteries, like what happens at the Den during the day, and does Chippy actually have a job?
Given a lack of talent, I tried to be one of the fitter guys, and then had my first taste of senior footy in 2008. That same year we went on to win the Reserves Flag under the astute guidance of Gerard 'Go Gerry Faulkner, go!' Faulkner.
Was there a particular game in 2009 where you felt the side was a genuine change to win the Grand Final and were you established in the senior side by that stage?
I'd never really thought much about winning the premiership in 2009, Muzza was pretty good at not letting us get ahead of ourselves. But I remember the preliminary final when Ryan 'Knowesly' Knowles kicked five.
It was a beautiful cold, wet and muddy day, and the teams could hardly be separated. Then in the last quarter the lads put it together and we ran away to win by 20 points.
Even though we had a granny to play the next week, the boys were able to let their hair down a little bit. After a few jars, I think Knowlesy even rang Dan Jordan to ask him how they planned on stopping him the next week!
What are your memories of the 2009 Grand Final itself, your role that day and the celebrations thereafter?
I had the best seat in the house for the start of the Grand Final: on the bench. We were treated to Damien 'Straawbs' Horbury putting on a first quarter clinic with four goals to really set the tone.
The only one getting beaten was Ryan 'Waighty' Waight, who faked an injury late in the second quarter because he knew I could do the job. A shame he spent the afternoon in hospital and missed some of the celebrations. Don't worry kids, he made up for it.
After a brilliant day for footy, rain came down like a Nathan 'Zommers' Blomeley mungrel punt with five minutes to go. When the siren went, the first bloke I saw was my good mate Jarrett 'Junkyard Dog' Giampaolo. It was an awesome feeling to know what we'd just achieved with some of our best mates. I had a few family members come from Bendigo and Melbourne as well, which made the day even more special.
Many a beer was had, and many a couch was burnt. Mad Monday at the Buncha Grapes was one of the highlights. Leigh 'G Bone' Ryall proved his worth by smashing a surfboard over the back of Knowlesy. Perhaps East Point should have tried that.
The Old Bulls showed their smarts by sending the young bulls on a naked run to the corner shop for a bag of lollies. Well played.
Who are the best five players you saw during your time with Redan and who was your toughest opponent?
I'm probably similar to a few players who were lucky enough to play during the 2000s:
Julian 'Fieldy' Field. A stoppage gun and tough as they come. Had lost a bit of speed by the time I played with him, so much so that Bryan 'Becksy Adly' Beckham could probably outrun him. That might be the reason Fieldy swallowed Becksy's premiership medal after the 2008 flag.
Jarrod 'Jezza' Edwards. Trained hard, played hard, and partied hard. A great bloke to watch on the track. Even better were the pre-game meals on a Friday night, although that was more to do with Claire's cooking. Thanks guys.
Matt 'MDeesy' Dwyer. A real class player. Speed and skill to match. Much like Brendan 'The Peace Train' Peace. Could carve a game up in a few minutes, and even better on the sauce.
Jake 'Bridgey' Bridges. Loved watching his attack on the footy and the man. Didn't have much luck with injury. I think one year he even tried wearing a wetsuit just to keep his hammys warm. Or maybe it was just to tackle the mudpit that City Oval used to become during the year. Those were the days.
Ryan 'Write off' Waighty. Could play a bit. Didn't have much time for manning-up down back, lucky he was a good reader of the footy. Covered just about every position on the field. I remember he went forward in the last quarter of the 2006 Grand Final, kicked two goals, and helped get the guys over the line that day.
Describe yourself as a footballer?
An impact player off the bench, who often had little impact.
Tell us about the coaches you played under during your time with the club.
Brendan "Piece of cake' Peace. Not even death road in Bolivia can phase this guy. Senior flag in his first year as coach. A 'player's' coach. Probably because he was also a player. Also a stayer on a night out. Holds his beer well, until he falls over. Introduced me to the Wizzer burger.
Damien 'Hoggy' Lubeek. Won the uni guys over early when he rocked up to campus with a case of beer. Couldn't have done a thing wrong after that. Here for a good time, not a long time!
Gerry 'Gerry' Faulkner. Dropped me for a ressies Grand Final. Poor judge of talent. Learnt his lesson two years later. Was my first coach in the seniors and I learnt plenty from Gerry, on and off the field.
Kieran 'Do not deviate' Murrihy. He played well with himself as coach knowing his spot was safe in the team. Drove me to become the best footballer I could be, and taught me the value of mixing that with having a good time. Is now busy predicting the future, or is he?
Eamon 'Fish' Gill. Great fella and coach. Could always be found holding up the bar at the Den. Career cut short by injury, but found his calling in coaching. Always good to chat footy with and get his ideas on the game.
What are some of your main highlights of your time with Redan?
You can't beat winning a flag, but aside from that, it's definitely the people. I loved knowing that every Saturday night, after a win or loss, you'd always head into the Den to start, and often finish your night. And you never knew what you were going to get.
Whether it was doing jumps on a BMX bike, a late night taxi to Crown Casino and a swim across the Yarra, or last man standing, there was something for everyone. Throw in a couple of footy trips to Cairns and Perth, and it made for a pretty good time.
Would you have expected one of your Reserves teammates to be an AFL premiership player only a few years later?
What an awesome story Isaac Smith is. One of Gerry 'The Brains' Faulkner's real success stories. We all knew Isaac could play, but I don't think we'd ever predict what he's gone on to achieve. He's worked bloody hard to get where he has and deserves everything that comes his way.
Three flags at the Hawks, a flag for Redan, but certainly one his highlights was appearing on ECU Radio with myself while I was studying. The listener was no doubt stoked to hear a few old redan stories. Ash 'Chippy' Barker was also a regular on the show to give a few race tips. Although he never really got it. Every time we'd try and wrap up the show, he just kept wanting to talk. We had to stop calling Chip after that.
You were part of the club during its most successful era in terms of senior premiership success, what were some of the keys to that success?
Everyone looked after each other pretty well at Redan. The Senior guys would often have us uni blokes over for a feed on a Friday night, that way they knew we'd turn up on Saturday with a more nutritious meal than a packet of 75c Mi Goreng noodles.
I also have to mention 'Super' Sue Waight, who took great care of me while I was in Ballarat. Can't thank her enough. She even let me move in while Waighty and I were saving for our historical museum and churches tour of Europe and the US.
On field we trained pretty hard, and we were very well drilled with what our role was and what was required. Come game day, our defence and ball movement was predictable to each other, and that made it easier for the guys up the field. We were also fortunate to have some pretty handy players come through the club. Even that
Carl 'Mazzler' Morandi guy could play a bit. Look him up if you need a new car. Or even if you don't.
Did you play much football following your departure in 2010?
Following our tour of Europe, I moved to Perth for a bit more study. I played a year for Mt Lawley in the amateurs, another great club for anyone who finds themselves in the west.
After that I moved to the Country Music capital of Australia. In Tamworth I put the Sherrin aside to focus more on my bootscooting and yodeling. I also took up Rugby Union for three years, where my build and lack of pace didn't really suit any position. But given I could catch and kick a little, I picked up a game on the sting, or wing for you guys down there.
Now I've ended up in Sydney and I'm back on the Aussie Rules bandwagon. I've spent the last four years with Macquarie University, and after two unsuccessful years as coach, now I'm enjoying my time just as a player.
In your role with Fox Sports you have seen firsthand the Australian sporting public’s obsession with elite level sport continue to grow. How do grassroots clubs like Redan compete with the appeal of watching elite level sport from the comfort of home?
Clubs like Redan will always have some advantages over the Elite game. If you turn up to City Oval, you can walk in the sheds before the game, listen to the huddle at quarter time, cheer on the netballers, and taste a few cold froffies from the comfort of the Den. You can't get that on your couch at home.
The kids can also get in on the action with a kick on the ground at the breaks and get up close with some of their local heroes like Patty Britt and Dean Chester.
Do you have any tips when it comes to interviewing?
Redan proved to be a great learning environment for my current work in sports reporting. Darryl Blomeley taught me that you're post game speeches can never be too long, and the more beers you have the better it sounds. Chippy taught me the value of doing your homework on your subjects to make sure you get that personal touch, just like he did for Last Man Standing.
But some of the main lessons I've learnt, is keep your questions short, and listener to the answer. By following up something the interviewee has said, you can often find out something you never knew, and take the interview to a really interesting place.
Where are you based these days and do you still have any involvement with football at club level?
These days I'm up in the harbour city of Sydney, still having a kick in the local comp. Get in touch if you're ever up here and I'll take you on a tour of this famous city.
What advice do you have for the boys and girls starting their careers at Redan?
Enjoy getting out and playing footy with your mates. But the more you put in, the more you'll get out. Train hard and the results will come on the weekend. Up the mighty Redan Lions!!
With Damian Linton
With Sue Waight
2009 Senior Premiers
2009 Grand Final
2009 Grand Final
2009 Grand Final with Brendan Peace and Neil Short
2009 Grand Final
2009 Grand Final
2008 Reserves Premiers
2008 Reserves Premiers
The Famous Barbershop quintet The B Sharps performing live at The Den.
Sussex Comedians Richard and Tony dropping in on Mad Monday celebrations at the Buncha Grapes.