Jay Dineen - My Redan Story
Tell us about growing up in Lang Lang and later Cora Lynn along with your
earliest footy memories and highlights of your junior career.
Cora Lynn is still open paddocks and fresh air. We lived on a dairy and potato farm. The hair on the back of my neck still stands up when I drive out there and visit the footy ground. I played there for five years. Luckily, this was during a successful period when we played finals every year.
In my final year of U/17’s we were beaten by Pakenham in the Grand Final. Not successful enough! I sat in the middle of the ground and bawled like a baby – must have known I’d never play in a Grand Final again.
My last year at Cora Lynn was my first year of seniors – worst year of football ever. I got dropped to the two’s for a few games, had a nagging injury all year and lost the passion to play for the next three years.
We moved to Lang Lang for four years after the farm got submerged in floods in 1984. Lang Lang was a small town and never really resonated with me. They hold a rodeo on the ground every Easter that chews the ground up and then the winter rains turn the bottom wing into a smelly mud bath.
The U/15 teams I played in struggled. My Dad coached U/15’s the year the club had four Abletts play – Kevin, Graham, Lenny and Geoff (after he had finished his VFL career) and with Kevin as the senior coach. I thought my Dad was the coolest dude going around after he met Kevin and shook his hand.
My two years of football at Lang Lang were my first, we hardly won a game and struggled to field teams some weeks. We’d drive through the main street on the way to away games looking for players we could squeeze into the back of the car who had no other way of getting to the game. Hard days in the mud on the bottom wing but nothing saps the enthusiasm for junior football.
You moved to Ballarat in 1996 for University. Who was it that attracted you to Redan and what were your initial impressions of the club?
My mate Russell ‘Noka’ Bennett and I did some pre season at Sebastopol in 1996 and were barely getting a run in the reserves in the practice matches. I heard there was a club called Redan struggling near where I lived on Urquhart St. So there we headed. Gradually, a few other people I knew from University joined the club.
The ground seemed huge and engulfed the players and few die hard committee members who attended training nights. The club seemed to function well but when we started playing games I realised there were some deficits – financial, player list, spectator interest.
The place was never short of an icon – we saw character (and characters) in the place beyond winning, money and status – Dale (with his hand held wireless), Flogga, Kappie, Mammy, the Lepoidavan brothers – this club seemed to have even more than the usual suspects who make up the fabric of a football club.
Your first season with the club was under Jason Mewitt. What did you feel were his strengths as a coach?
‘Mewy’ was a motivator who couldn’t tolerate poor effort. On more than one occasion he punished poor performances at training and Saturdays. One night at training he became frustrated when we couldn’t do a drill to his expectations. The more sprints we did, the worse our skills, and the situation, became. We played North Ballarat on the Saturday and were too tired to chase. Mewy lost it after the game.
Mewy was a determined player and lead from the front. He showed a lot of belief in me and the plight of the club at the time.
That season and again in 1998, the side failed to win a senior game. How did you motivate yourself to keep giving putting in week in week out despite the lack of success?
I loved a challenge in sport – who doesn’t, that’s why we do it. I loved having a single-minded focus, the mental psych up (or psych out perhaps) and pitting myself against a direct opponent and defiantly trying to come out on top.
I also revelled in being the underdog. So I guess Redan fitted that bill. I suppose I always believed we were going to get a little bit better too. I was also driven by the camaraderie within the playing group, playing with mates for genuine fun and commitment to each other knowing full well we were being driven along by more than success and status.
As I played centre, I also revelled in knowing each week there would be a good opponent playing in the middle I would shake hands with and strive to beat. I was never of their calibre, so there was the challenge.
In his recent interview, your 1997 Coach Matt Jones spoke highly of your playing ability and character. He also commented that you could have played with any team but chose to stick with Redan. Did any clubs try to entice you away from Redan and how often were you tagged?
No, no club ever tried to entice me away from Redan. I think Redan was so depleted that other clubs may have felt enough sympathy to not try to poach its players. And I was hardly the guy who was going to dominate the ruck or kick a bag of goals. It never even crossed my mind to leave in those two years, even after 300 point drubbings.
I was tagged once. It was by North Ballarat. When my opponent started following me around I couldn’t figure out why. We were down by ten goals at quarter time in six-inch thick muddy bog – why would you tag one of our players?
Share your thoughts on the job Matt did with the side plus his progression to the TAC Cup coaching ranks at Dandenong.
‘Jonesy’ was a football and fitness fanatic. He first struck me as a bloke with a love for life and people. From memory, he had a bad injury that impeded him but he instilled in the players a sense of perseverance and belief. He also had amazing patience. I think he had the right temperament to coach us in 1997. He had realistic expectations and took the glass is half full approach.
I’m not surprised he has progressed to be involved at Dandenong in the TAC competition. He had a keen eye and mind for the game, off the field and on, and had a way of building rapport with people. Loved a story too, did Jonesy.
Where does the 1997 Dalton-Bayly Medal rank with your career highlights and did Redan see the best of your footy career?
It’s funny, at the time it didn’t seem as significant. While I took enormous pride in the effort I put in, there just wasn’t a focus on kudos or individual feats. Winning the medal is now more of an honour in retrospect, having seen and heard of the success the club has experienced since.
At the time, the gratification and pride in sticking at something with such a tight bunch of down to earth people was the highlight. There was a lot of respect earned, showed and shared by people within the club at that time; being part of that was the highlight.
I don’t think my extra-curricular University nightlife helped my fitness when I played at Redan, but at least I was injury free. I think I became stronger and read the game better in later years, but never had the desire in the packs that I had at Redan. Must have been the love of playing in the mud I crafted as a kid.
Who were some of the players who impressed you most with your time at Redan and who were your toughest opponents in the BFL?
Bobby O’Brien – I can still see him in and under, or tirelessly running all over the ground against opponents three times his size.
Brett ‘Grassy’ Stone could run, run and carry (somehow he mastered bouncing the football on the soggy Ballarat grounds) and what’s more, kick to a target.
In my first year big Mal Peppin dominated; I didn’t fathom the might of the man until he became North Ballarat’s ruckman when they joined the VFL.
As far as opponents go, Wayne Cracknell from Bacchus Marsh was terrifying – he was quick, uncanny and aggressive. Shane Ward from Darley was a direct opponent who comes to mind. The entire Sunbury teamed was formidable (and frightening).
How did the standard of the BFL compare with other leagues you have played in?
I played under Rod Keogh (played for Melbourne and St Kilda and was the hardest coach and probably player I’ve played with) for Devon Meadows in the Mornington Peninsula League. BFL was on par or slightly higher I’d say.
I played in the A Grade Amateurs in Perth in 1998, the year after I left Ballarat. It was more open and fast moving football than Ballarat due to dry, sandy grounds and better weather but probably a similar standard. Then I played for Lindenow down in the East Gippsland Football League and this was was probably a little lower in standard.
From a football perspective, can you still take positives out of an experience like those two winless seasons at Redan?
Absolutely, I wouldn’t change it - if you had handed me back to back premiership medallions in 1996 and 97 I wouldn’t have given them back but for different reasons, they were my fondest senior years of football.
There was something in the atmosphere that I’ve never encountered in senior football elsewhere. You take money (i.e. match payments) and hierarchy out of sport and it’s pure and fun. In those two years, particularly 1997, we had to look for other things than winning to play for; we found things to laugh at, iconic people, mateship. I think a lot of the players found a unified identity as ‘University’ students trying to help out an embattled club with a prestigious history.
In his recent interview Ted Neville outlined the struggle to find players each week to field two sides. How often did you play two games of a Saturday and do you recall how many of the senior side would do this?
I think away games during University holidays were the most difficult, as some players didn’t want to travel the Western Highway or would go back home to rural Victoria for the ‘Uni break’.
I may have played two games once in 1996 but generally, the senior players had only played that game. We had thirds players come and play seconds like what happens in a lot of clubs stretched to fill two senior teams.
Teddy would be a most accurate source though. We were often scraping the bottom of the barrel to field a reserves team. One week, however, we had to tell John Greengrass he couldn’t play as we had too many players and from memory it was the week we beat Golden Point in the only win recorded at reserves/senior level for 1996/97.
What were some of your favourite moments on the field during 1996 and 1997?
I had a cassette tape with a about five songs on it. Before every game I’d listen to it with my Walkman. There was a Nirvana song on it called 'Sliver', 'One day in September' by Mike Brady for childhood sentimentality and a couple of others, including 'Father and son' by Cat Stevens.
Cat Stevens is hardly Pat Benator ‘All fired up’ but it got me focused. It was the last game of year against Melton South. The club had nearly folded the week before but as usual we were unperturbed and had a mission to complete.
There was a big stereo in the rooms and someone joked about putting the tape in. It was probably Peasy. So I did. The volume got louder, louder and louder. The team ran out on the ground singing Father and Son. It’s still my favourite song today and that moment running onto the ground with all those fellas who had stuck together through thick and thin captured an unforgettable moment.
We played out of our skin, lost by a respectable margin and came in and screamed the theme song out. We only knew the words from singing them out on the town every Thursday night. I still laugh at the thought of what was going through the opposition player’s minds hearing our theme song next door.
Other moments . . . I remember running out onto the ground for a game at City Oval one day and Nic Heffernan’s pink boxer shorts were hanging out of his shorts almost to his knees. He nonchalantly carried on through the warm up, lined up the half back line and played like no one had noticed.
Then there was the day when Dave ‘Rednuts’ Ogilvie played his first game. He joined the club a few games into the year when Sportco had ran out of medium size shorts, so he had to buy size 38’s. They were like parachutes around his skinny long white legs and kept falling down. Then he got sent off for a minor indiscretion and ran off the ground with his shorts falling down to face a barrage of heckling spectators. Funny, funny memories. There was just nothing pretentious about the place.
The day the reserves beat Golden Point was memorable. It was our only win for the collective reserves/seniors for two years. They came into the rooms and we all sang the theme song. The senior players had spent their emotion before running out and never delivered in a game we had built up to win. It was very disappointing, but sharing that moment with the reserves players was irresistible.
John Greengrass’ goal in the reserves at a mud bath in Daylesford stands out. He never said a word all year, missed out on the only game won at reserves/senior level for 1996/97 which seemed heartbreaking for him, so the goal was monumental.
Then there was the day the reserves coach (name escapes me) shouted to the team at three quarter time ‘C’mon boys, Duncan Tung has just had his first kick of the year out there that quarter, it was round 13.
So as you can see, not too many scoreboard highlights, but the little things made us laugh or inspired.
You were renowned for your courage and ferocious attack at the footy. Was this something which came naturally to you or did it develop over time?
I was never a good kick, overly quick or agile so I came to rely on determination and fitness. But before I even realized this, I naturally just wanted the football. As a kid, you lived to have your hands on a footy. So in juniors, I’d go into the pack and get it, or at least try. I was the kid who would scrap with an opponent to hand the ball back to the umpire when he blew his whistle to throw it up.
I never started to get hurt in football until I started to think about it and hold back a bit in my late 20’s a few years after playing at Redan. I had been overseas in my mid 20’s; after being away from the game I built a whole new respect for the physicality of the game when I returned. I think it instilled a bit of fear in me for the first time.
You were also renowned for your generosity, often putting your award money on the bar in the Den. What were some of your favourite memories off the field with your teammates?
The footy trip to Adelaide was epic. Brian Lovison drove the bus the entire way there and back – what a legend! Tolerance plus putting up with all of us.
Flogga’s post game speeches in The Den (can still picture him standing on a chair) were always amusing. He found a way to still be upbeat and optimistic after we had been beaten by 47 goals.
In 1997 we organised a few social events and did some fundraising. It created a lot of cohesion around the club and among the players. I still recall most of Centurions in the rooms one night! We could stand up to Sunbury but centurions was too much for many of the boys. Geoff Lepoidavan became a double centurion.
Sometimes after an away game we’d go to the Bunch of Grapes for a counter meal. Some of the long-standing committee men would be there and it gave me some sense of what the old history of Redan was about. Great food too.
Thursday nights at the Blarney Inn were a thing for a while. There was always somewhere else to go out after that.
Who were some of the characters around the playing group and club that you felt kept the club united and an enjoyable place to be?
There’s too many! Dale, the fanatical supporter, carrying his hand held radio, standing there every week in the wind, rain and hail when we were losing by 50 goals.
Familiar faces like Teddy and Fred Carpenter. Flogga (and his tray of meats prize). Pete the trainer; just an all round good guy passionate about the club on the bones of it’s backside.
Brian Lovison was the initial link between the club and Ballarat University – in one way, I think his work saved the club. Then were the true homegrown Ballarat people like Carl Eddy, the Lepoidavans and Simon Remington who stuck by the club when things really hit the skids in 1997.
Then people would just show up for a game, like we’d grabbed a few lads off the street – John Greengrass, Duncan Tung. There was the colossus Marty Cusack, who went toe to toe with the man-giant Alistair Ford from East Ballarat one day.
There was a guy Vinnie who played reserves. His indicators on his car were coloured flashing flags that appeared from the side of his mirrors when he turned into the ground for training – random, quirky things I remember that gave the place character.
The whole playing group was decorated with colourful characters who made the place more enjoyable. Too many people to name, too great a risk to forget someone.
Following your time with Redan you moved to Perth. Tell us about your time over there plus your days playing in the Amateurs League with Trinity Aquinas.
I went with Russell Bennett who also played the two years I played at Redan. We drove over the Nullabor to see Andrew ‘Tugga’ Teggelove who also became a prominent figure in the Lions Den in 1999/98 and beyond.
Tugga knew of Trinity Aquinas, a club in the A Grade Amateur’s Perth competition, through his brother’s mate. We lobbed up and weren’t popular as ‘The Victorians’. But we instantly clicked with the group of young, social players they had there at the time.
The urban grounds were far smaller than to my liking but were usually dry, accommodating fast, open football. It was a far cry from the soggy bog of City Oval, but I found familiarity in finishing bottom of the ladder. The club got relegated but the vibe of the club was fantastic. I farewelled Perth and Trinity Aquinas the same year and headed overseas.
After moving back to Victoria, you spent time with Devon Meadows and Lindenow in the East Gippsland league. Tell us about your years spent at these clubs and were you fortunate enough to play in any premiership sides?
I played with Devon Meadows in 2001 when I returned from overseas. An old school mate was playing there and talked me into it. Rod Keogh coached; now there’s a straight shooter. We made the Preliminary Final.
I went back to Devon Meadows in 2003 after another year overseas in 2002. We struggled that year finishing second bottom, but again, the social atmosphere and spirit made up for it.
In 2004 - 06 I played with Lindenow in the East Gippsland League after getting a teaching position down in Sale. An old mate from University Matty Kell, who I played with at Redan in 1997, introduced me to the club. Again I must have cast my spell of bad luck, when team performances deteriorated in my three years there. Great club though, again reliant on true blue community-minded people.
What have you made of the turnaround in Redan's predicament since you moved on and have you been to see any of the premiership wins or the 99 win over Daylesford?
No, I was overseas when they beat Daylesford in 1999. Even in London, the build up to the game and post-match celebrations seemed enormous as updates via phone or emailed came through.
Over the next few years I was hardly in Victoria and certainly a long way from Ballarat. My Dad would check the papers most weeks and fill me in that Redan had won or pushed sides. Then I started hearing about Grand Finals and Premierships. I’ve never seen a Redan game since the last one I played in. Lousy hey!
Have you had any coaching experience or have a desire to coach in the future?
No, only school football as a school teacher. Interestingly that was with Lawry Borgelt who played with Redan in 1997.
I have no interest in coaching, although I guess I’d put my hand up to coach a junior side one of my sons might play in one day. As for senior coaching, they can have it. I always sensed the coach could never please enough people no matter how hard he worked or how much time he gave up.
We have interviewed quite a few teachers for My Redan Story and have asked them this same question. With most AFL coaches ex-AFL players with no second career, is the coaching talent pool missing out on something with the success of Alistair Clarkson and Brendon Bolton (former teachers) both doing so well at the elite level?
Teachers are a weird and whacky breed, at least everyone who isn’t a teacher seems to say that. But hopefully we do have some skills in being able to pass on information and help people reach their full potential.
Clarkson and Bolton both have experience in footy at elite level that must surely help a great deal. I think the coaching and teaching complement each other really well, but there is a distinction that someone like Clarkson must have honed.
Perhaps AFL coaching is a career for teachers after they’ve retired from teaching, as much as teaching is a career for retired AFL players. I can only hope!
Tell us about where you are based these days and what are you up to?
I live in Avondale Heights in the North Western suburbs of Melbourne. I moved to Melbourne from Sale in 2006 when the feet were still itchy and I ended up in the least likely of places. I teach at a school in Keilor (with Brett Stone) and am currently studying a Master of Social Work to hopefully move into school counselling or a similar field of human services.
My wife Stephanie and I have two boys Kyan (4) and Charlie (2). I ran a couple of marathons about five years back, over did it and now feel 40 going on 80 so the boots are well and truly hung up.
Although, I played one game in the reserves for Pinaroo in rural South Australia last year when we visited my sister. (They won the Grand Final later that year; 7 hours in a car every weekend might have been worth it!) I got the boots out I had worn ten years prior, reached in but couldn’t find the mouth guard coiled up in the dirty socks I’d worn in the last game .
Are you involved with a football club these days in any capacity?
No, just don’t have the time and unlike being in a country town or a big regional city like Ballarat, I guess you don’t just lob at the local footy ground to meet people in Melbourne’s suburbs. When/if (my wife can handle watching them potentially get hurt) our boys play footy, then the next phase of football in my life might emerge.
What advice would you have for the junior boys and girls starting their footy and netball careers with Redan?
Be true to the roots of the club; respect who has come before. And take note of the iconic volunteers who run the club as they’re the heart and soul. Bit heavy for juniors perhaps!
Above all, relish the junior years as it can get injury ridden and a bit serious after that.
1997 Dalton-Bayly Medal
with Adam Pease
with Andrew Teggelove
After the game I played with Pinaroo in rural South Australia when my family visited my sister in 2015. From left - my son Kyan, me, my nephew Gussy and niece Ruby.
Devon Meadows (Mornington Peninsula League 2003) - myself and two old school mates Chris Burgess and Shane Piper.
Cora Lynn Under 17's 1992 - I'm standing in back from third person from right.
Playing for Lindenow against Lakes Entrance in the East Gippsland League 2006.
West Gippsland Rep Squad 1990 - I'm sitting in bottom row, fourth player from the right.
Running out at start of game for Cora Lynn vs Pakenham U/17 Grand Final 1992 - I'm in the middle (game was played at my much loved Cora Lynn ground; we'd had about five inches of rain that week and the ground became a la City Oval).
Myself and our two boys - from left Kyan and Charlie (both having very bad hair days).