Matthew Walsh - My Redan Story
Where did you play your junior football and what were some of the highlights?
I grew up in Kyabram and played my junior football there.
I still remember my first goal when I was playing under 12's. I crumbed the ball off a contest in the goal square and as I went to kick it I got pushed in the back.
The ball ended up coming off my knee but still went through the big sticks. The goal umpire reminded me that I need to use my foot in future.
After playing VFL with North Ballarat, what was it that attracted you to come and play with Redan?
I had a few mates that played at Redan and I was aware of the great club culture. Brett Quinlan came to visit me at work to entice me to come across from North and after the meeting I was sold. It was the best move I ever made!
What were some of your initial impressions of the club?
The mateship and camaraderie. This immediately made me feel welcome and I thrived in that environment. We were a close unit both on and off the field and that's why we had the success we did.
Which players and coaches made the biggest impression on you while at Redan?
I was very fortunate to be coached by both Brett Quinlan and Kieran Murrihy in my time at Redan. Not only where they very smart tacticians, they were great blokes and mates with all the players. This was a unique relationship and the boys loved playing under them.
In regards to players, you can't go past club legends like Ash Barker, Jayden Reid, Mark Kennedy and Orren Stephenson. Great players and even better blokes.
You kicked over 200 goals for Redan in three seasons and were renowned for your high marking and accuracy around goals. How did those three seasons rate against the rest of your career?
My 2003 season is one I have fond memories of. Winning the premiership, kicking around 80 goals and winning my first Senior Best & Fairest was amazing. At the time the league was very strong so this made those achievements pretty special.
Who was the best full back you played on in the BFL?
It's difficult to pinpoint one particular player, but if I had to say one, Brad Miller from Darley always gave me a tough contest.
What are your memories of the 2003 Premiership and have you played in any Premierships since?
The 2003 flag was very special. Not only was it my first premiership, we went into the game as underdogs.
But true to Redan fashion the boys rose to the occasion and we came away with a gritty win. And we celebrated accordingly. Although the memory is a touch patchy, those three days after the win, at the time, were the best days of my life. You cannot beat winning a flag with your best mates.
Since then, I've been very fortunate to win six premierships with the Cairns Saints. We've won the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 & 2015 premierships.
What were some of your other highlights and best memories of your time at Redan?
The nights at the den were always a highlight. I remember Dru Quinlan trying to drive a car through the doors of the den one night! I also remember one home game against Bacchus Marsh being called off at halftime due to the inclement weather. It would have been two degrees tops!
You moved to QLD after your time at Redan and have played with some other past Redanies at the Cairns Saints.
The Cairns Saints has a unique relationship with Ballarat players, in particular Redan. Mark Kennedy, Gareth Hose, Matty Dwyer and Luke Nunn are a few Redanies I've played with at the Saints.
To have kicked over 1,000 goals is a massive achievement, how does it compare to winning a premiership?
It's difficult to compare. We all play football with a goal of winning a premiership and in my view, individual accolades come second to team success. To me 1,000 is only a number.
I probably don't appreciate it too much now and probably won't understand the significance of it until later in life, but the Cairns League and other media outlets have made a big deal of it so I guess it must be pretty special.
Lockett, Coventry, Dunstall, Wade, Abblett and Walsh. It’s a pretty
select group, do you know of many other footballers who have kicked 1,000 goals?
I honestly don't know. I may have to look it up on Google.
How did the standard of football compare between the BFL?
Overall, I would say we are somewhere between the Central Highlands and the BFL (many other Ballarat players have said the same thing). I've been lucky enough to play in some great teams up here (ie - our 2008 premiership team) that would definitely be top 4 material in the BFL.
How big is AFL in QLD, could you see there being a 3rd QLD side further north in the next 10 to 20 years?
AFL has definitely grown in the ten years I've been up here. This has been evident when the NQ team has beaten the SQ in the past two State clashes.
Although there's been huge developments in the North, we are still a long way off from having another AFL team up here. The next step, which has been explored, is putting in a NQ team into the NEAFL competition.
Do you have any theories on why kicking for goal at AFL level has not
improved in line with skill level in all other areas?
It absolutely perplexes me. These guys are professional athletes who have all of the best coaches, equipment, etc available to them, yet their goal kicking is still very poor. Maybe it's the crowd noise that distracts them?
Growing up was there a full forward in the AFL who you tried to emulate?
I've honestly never thought about that, so no.
Take us through your kicking routine.
I have a ten step routine. Four walking steps, six steps with momentum and then the kick. A very simple routine that has worked for many years.
How is your form at the moment and how many years before you hang up the boots?
The form is surprisingly still good. I've kicked 144, 138, 116 & 112 in my past four seasons, but I've been fortunate to play in strong teams who deliver the ball well so I can't take too much credit.
I'm 36 now so I'm unsure how many seasons I've got left in me. The body is still good so we'll see how we go. I'm having a bit of time off from footy at the moment. I'll maybe come back and play the last five to six games of the season depending on how the team is travelling.
Tell us about life in Cairns these days and whether could see yourself heading back to Victoria down the track?
Cairns has been great to me. I've met my wife, had two beautiful children (pictured with Jett), been part of a fantastic club and worked at a couple of brilliant schools in the past ten years so I can't complain.
It's such a relaxed place with great weather for the majority of the year, particularly during the winter when the average temperature is about 26 degrees.
However, there is no place like home and I've been wanting to move back to Victoria for a number of years to be closer to family and friends. We are planning to move back at the end of this year and were looking at moving to Geelong so it'll be nice to be back in Victoria.
I'd love to sneak up the midland highway at some stage and pull on the Redan jumper one more time ;) !!
What advice do you have for the next generation of Redan key forwards staring out in the junior ranks?
Find a kicking routine and stick with it. Also seek advice from experienced forwards who can give tips on starting positions and reading the play.