Rob Gaylard - My Redan Story
What was it like growing up in Colac and what are some of your earliest footy memories?
I started playing football at Colac as a youngster and found myself playing senior football whilst still eligible for junior ranks and not being an overly strongly built kid, used to get knocked about a fair bit. I found myself always with some sort of injury, was possessed with a fair bit of speed but that still didn’t help getting crunched week in week out.
You played some representative football at junior level, what were some of the other highlights and did you play any senior football there?
I was lucky enough to be selected to represent the Colac and District league at U/18 level whilst still playing senior footy.
In recent times Luke Hodge has put Colac on the map but who were some of the best players to come out of the region in the 1970s and 1980s?
The best players to come from Colac in my time were Alan Barr (Geelong), David Wheadon (Collingwood) who went on to be a specialist coach with a few AFL VFL clubs, Leigh Murnane (Fitzroy) and Steven Theodore (St Kilda) and I had the pleasure of playing with them all.
You came to Ballarat for work and started your BFL career with East Ballarat. Tell us about your time there and some the highlights and did you ever pull the boots on again following your Achilles injury?
I went to East Ballarat after a couple of training runs with them as I had a couple of mates there and played a bit of reserves footy as I had just got married and didn’t have a lot of time to get serious with training a dedication at the time.
How did you first come to know the great John Northey and how did your move to Redan come about?
I am not to sure how we first met but I was mates with Brian Hepper “doc” and I think we ended up playing a bit of golf with Swoop hence the friendship began that way. As we became familiar with each other, he asked me would I be interested in moving to Redan and the rest is history. Although I ruptured my Achilles tendon early the first year then became Vice President and involved in the running of the club in the days of Evan Hicks.
What was it that made him such a great coach and was it obvious back then that he was destined to coach VFL/AFL football?
I think his best asset was being able to play and lead as a coach on and off the ground and brought a lot of new initiatives with him that many of us had never encountered with other coaches in the past, he had the knack of getting you to believe in yourself, turning boys into men and getting the best out of players that not all coaches could do.
You coached the reserves side in 1983. Tell us about this experience and some of the better players that season.
I coached the reserves as we hadn’t had success for a while and for some reason I was asked if I would accept the role as I think they thought perhaps many of my initiatives and game plans were of the Northey era as John had left the club to chase his new direction at St Kilda.
It was a bit of a juggling act at times because I was still reading the sports news on BTV 6 at the time and had to leave about 6pm to get to the station and read the news with my footy shorts, socks and boots on and a nicely pressed shirt and jacket on the top.
If many of the viewers knew what was under the desk?? especially on the wet and muddy nights at training you would bring a bit of a stench into the studio.
Some of the guys I enjoyed coaching were Gary Jones who would give me his all every week, Lindsay Powell I used to love bringing off the bench for ten minutes each quarter to give us that burst of speed he was known for.
Glen White I could use just about anywhere with his spring and height and he was a delight to have in the side, and whilst we had a lot of battlers at the end of the year we made the finals and I think it sowed a seed that many of these boys had matured and learn’t what was required to be successful.
Pymie was my captain and whilst not a robust or boisterous player, had the respect of all and that counted for a lot on game day. Occasionally I put myself up forward if we looked like being short or any of the boys were moved up to the ones and managed to kick a few from a half forward flank or full forward.
How many of the side would have played in the Reserves Premiership side the following season?
I can’t answer that as I ended up with John as his deputy with the St Kilda reserves and as a runner but I would like to have thought that many went on to get the reward for the work done the year prior.
David Blackburn was the playing senior coach at the time, what were his strengths as a coach?
Blackie was a very much in and under type of player who had a bit of dirt in him which good players must have, I thought for the players he had his job was quite satisfactory as the seniors had come off some good years earlier and there was a significant changeover in players.
Club games record holder Ian Pym was your Captain that season, tell us about Pymie the player and leader.
Pymie was never the fire and brimstone type of bloke but he could stir you on field if needed and he was just ever reliable and so respected by is all. You knew if the ball went into defence Pymie would be there in the last line to send it back into attack time and time again, nothing flash about Pymie but ever reliable. There was never a question who I wanted to lead us on the ground from day one.
Who would be your top five players at Redan during your time with the club?
Graham Gellie was possessed with great skills both with hand and foot.
Greg Packham a beautiful kick for a little guy and a character on and off the field with good skills either side of his body.
Northey of course for all the reasons we know as a coach and as a leader on the ground and able to lift a side with his own individual performances.
I always like the way Johnny Warren stood up when wanted a good mark and a bit hot and cold but on his day was a great player.
Russell Tweeddale “bucket” he would have been one of the most gifted players on both sides of his body I had seen, a beautiful kick left of right foot but I still don’t think we ever saw what he was capable of.
I loved watching Gary Murnane in the tough contests,” nangers” was there when you needed him to settle any disputes and had the best right hand that never travelled all that far but was very dangerous.
What can you tell us about a particular Bondi Beach footy trip and the impromptu musical performances by some of the players?
Our footy trip to Sydney was the best time I had with a bunch of blokes. I was the designated bus driver hence the nickname from Jonesy “Budget Bob”.
We used to drive up and down Kings Cross with the windscreen washers turned to spray on the public waiting at the lights, Nangers and Jonesy were in charge of spraying when appropriate either at a pedestrians or bike riders as we went past then found ourselves roaring with laughter as they looked sky wood wondering where the water came from. Grown men having so much fun with a gallon of water, how immature but funny.
We were at the sound shell at Bondi Beach one day when Herbie Packham who was known to let out a good tune started singing on the stage with all of us sitting in the audience clapping his performance that drew a crowd who sang along with Herbie and all of us, one of those sights where you had to be there to appreciate the fun times.
Evan Hicks was the President back in those days, what can you tell us about Evan and his reluctance to drive through a particular suburb?
I feel guilty every time someone mentions Evan Hicks as he was a great mentor to me and a Redanie through and through, he wouldn’t even drive though Sebastopol if he could avoid it as he hated them so much and off course they took over part of the Redan area and stole a few players that should have worn the maroon and gold.
Why I feel guilty one day I was so caught up in the game on the bench this day I disagreed with something he had to say to me I lashed out at him and clipped him on the chin, and I never forgave myself for doing it, I think he knew where my passion was and laughed it off. I hope he forgave me as it was one of the few right hands I threw I my time at the City oval.
Your wife was also involved with the Ladies Committee, who were some of the volunteers that really made sure the club ticked along nicely?
My wife Karen became involved on match days in the canteen which was a bit tough for her as she had her own hairdressing business and on Saturdays closed the doors then came and worked in the Canteen so never really got to enjoy the success we had on the field.
You were involved with John Northey’s highly successful BFL Interleague sides of the early 1980s. Take us through some of the highlights and players who impressed you most in those matches.
The BFL interleague sides were a highlight of my association with John to be working with and as runner in those successful years was a huge achievement for many of us, young men who in some instances had a reputation were turned into good footballers who gained and got respect.
Their lives took another direction in that for the first time in their lives they lived a dream of what football at the top level with success was like and many not given the chance to go onto AFL/VFL level but achieved success they would never have got if Northey hadn’t have taken the reins.
Our reunions have proved what changes that made to our respective lives and we will all be mates for life. Impressive players were Discher, Lofts, Tweeddale, Packham, Kiel, Howlett, Frawley Danny and Michael, Paul Armstrong and Lang to name a few.
Tell us about the time your spent with St Kilda with John who was an assistant coach there at the time. Was it obvious that Tony Lockett was destined for greatness back then?
I wish I could have had the opportunity to coach after spending my time with Northey at St Kilda and the combined squads as I had learnt so much of how to handle players on and off the field, understanding game plans, we took some 20 players form the Ballarat League to St Kilda in those early days, employing Maurice O’Keefe and Graeme Gellie who went on to coach the Saints himself.
Locket and Frawley were inseparable and whilst the type of forward that Locket turned out to be wouldn’t survive in today’s game he proved what a talented and reliable kick in that era.
It was on day we played Richmond that Swoop pulled on the boots in the reserves and the look on Tony Jewell's face in the box that day was one of I can’t believe what I am seeing, Swooper kicked four from a half forward flank and I didn’t have to run a message out to him all day, much as I would have liked to have run out and tell him to have dip.
Both Northey and senior coach Mike Patterson team mates from their Richmond days had a great relationship and it also helped me being Pattos’ cousin getting to sit in the coaches box sometimes on game day. “They were the days of Fire and Brimstone”.
Around this time you were working with BTV6 here in Ballarat and moved to Channel 9 in 1987. In speaking with you ahead of this interview, you mentioned the Redan and John Northey connection helped secure that position?
How did I get to be at BTV 6, one day in the office Northey was asked to go and do an interview at BTV re footy and he reneged and unbeknownst to me, told me they wanted to talk with me?
I went up spoke the sports guy and he had no idea what I was doing there, finally when things were sorted out they wanted to get an appraisal of the weekend's round starting that season. I knew little so went off on a bit of a rant re the Hampden League which I had been calling footy for radio 3CS and 3YB as to how I felt their season would evolve. I received a call on the Monday morning from station manager Gary Rice and I thought, hello we are in a bit of trouble here.
When sat down in his office, he asked what experience I had and I said none with which he replied no one can do what out having some experience with TV prior and proceeded to offer me a job each Friday night looking at the various leagues in the viewing area.
That then led to hosting Football scoreboard on a Saturday night during the replay in the ad breaks. During that year the response was positive to what I was doing and that led to reading the news on two nights the sports guy had off… which eventually led to me offered a full time job reading and producing sport in the news.
So Swoop if you hadn’t have told me a lie and chickened out of going on TV then I might never have got to where I am today.
On hosting the May racing carnival I was spotted by the news director at 9 one day in the pub at lunch time and the call came I want that kid down here at 9. I didn’t want to head to the big smoke, it was not what I had planned for my life but the urging of a few to take up the challenge saw me head to Channel 9 and unfortunately took my good mate Maxie Walker's job on the news desk.
That’s when I learnt it was a dog eat dog industry, not one a country boy was comfortable with but led to travelling the world reporting sport and wide World of Sports commentating cycling and golf and rubbing shoulders with the world’s best, this was a new beginning.
What has been some of the most rewarding work you have done on Television and which of the big name personalities impressed you most with their work ethic and professionalism?
The America’s Cup and calling the Bicentennial Football carnival in 1988 would rank as rewarding and then hosting the many cycling events leading up to the Olympics here in Australia.
Working alongside Phil Liggett regarded as the voice of cycling, I can’t think of too many more that I have worked with as the industry was full of imposters, it's not what you knew it was who you knew as to whether you got a gig on tele.
Horses are your great passion. Tell us about some of the various roles you have had with the sport along with your highlights and best memories.
Boy where do I start. As many of you know horses probably were my passion more than football or any other sport, I was lucky enough to ride overseas for a couple of seasons I was the first person to throw a leg across a horse called Crisp who went on to be the best steeplechaser in Australia’s history and was the best thing beaten in the Grand National at Aintree. I managed to get over there to see him in the early 70’s as a young fellow.
I have been lucky enough t have been the voice and face of racing at Flemington for nearly 16 years and watched the internationals come and take our cup from our shores. Saw the first in Vintage Crop and the list goes on. Was also given a part in Damian Oliver’s life story with media Puzzle, so now I have actor on my CV.
Went to Ascot when Black Caviar took the world by storm when she was technically broken down and probably should never have run and on the same program. Saw the brilliant Frankel and met the Queen.
Which would be the best five horses you have seen race?
My best five horses would be Crisp, Black Caviar, Vain, Makybe Diva. I will never see another horse win three Melbourne cups in a row, she was something special, and Loved the romance that surrounded Take over Target, a horse broken down sold for a song, a trainer who was a real knock about taxi driver who couldn’t rub two sticks together to take on the world and beat them and be labelled the best sprinter in the world at one stage and his trainer going on to be a millionaire. If that doesn’t grab you nothing would.
The best horse I did sell after racing him was a horse ONEDIN SAPREME who won his first nine races at Moonee Valley and went on to win the Melbourne Mile and was one of the best free for all pacers of his time in the 1980s.
We purchased him from NZ and I paid more for him than my first home which in the 1980s was a bucket load of money for a horse that had only had two starts and not proven, it was one of the biggest gambles of my life but I liked what I saw in him as a youngster and he repaid us five fold and we campaigned all around Australia with him with great success. Today many harness racing fans still ask about him
You only get one horse in a life time and I think I may have had my turn he went on to win some 25 races and almost half a million dollars in prizemoney.
Another good horse we purchased from New Zealand was Sam Morris the full brother to Jack Morris who won an interdominion and injuries stopped him from being as good as ONEDIN SAPREME
We have just sold out little mare MARLI MAGIC who won four races in Melbourne last season she was a $50,000 purchase won over $250,000 in just over 12 months and we sold her for what we paid for her but would love to have kept and bred from her but this four legged lottery is also about running the stable as a business, as they say you can't marry them.
Now our daughter is wanting to go back to the show ring so it looks like spit and polish and ponies again for the Gaylards, Showing is spending thousands in the effort to win a $20 blue ribbon, doesn't make a lot of sense does it but it's what we enjoy and as a family we can do it all together.
In 2000 over three hundred people attended the Team of the Century dinner at the Norvalle Function Centre. What do you remember of the work involved in setting this up and the night itself?
Saving Redan……That’s 16 years ago and I was seconded to come home to try and help save the Lions and I couldn’t say no as if I could help us from going under I was going to help.
The thing that stood out on the night was the support from other clubs that fronted to support us. Golden Point, East Ballarat and even Sebastopol all showed their support and of course those who had worked so hard behind the scenes were rewarded as the club was saved from extinction.
As for the team of the century dinner it was a great night to be involved with but many of the older brigade I never knew but football is a great leveller and its always great to reminisce and meet those given that status.
What do you make of the Redan’s turnaround from a club on the brink in 1998 to a club that has won six senior football and one senior netball premiership over a relatively short period of time?
That turn around shows the passion of its supporters and those willing to hold onto a dream and carry on a legacy that has been a part of the Western and City Oval, I have never felt for a club as much as I have for Redan that gave me great memories great mates I still keep I touch with today and a club that is steeped now in history.
You’ve had an association with Carlton for a number of years through your MC work, what do you feel have been some of the keys to turn its fortunes around on an off the field?
I am lucky enough to be involved with the Carlton Football Club in many roles and presently I have witnessed one of the most impressive coaches I have ever heard in Bolton not only talk but get respect and be able to turn players around in just on six months.
We still lack a few big bodies and a true forward that can kick outside 50 but the future looks bright, whilst it is bright the pack will follow, if the light fades the supporters will disappear this year we had 50,000 members which is evident that its supporters can see light at the end of the tunnel.
A new president who is a dominant leader and won’t accept second best and a new football manager who has also brought some good ideas with him from Adelaide.
What are you up to these days and do you have any involvement with a local side down Lara way?
Don’t faint here, I have up until now had very little to do with Lara FC over the past few years. I was their number one member when I first came to town as a celebrity and also helped Damian Christianson on the coaching side as a mentor on game day giving my thoughts to some of the moves that I felt would work as Damo was a playing coach and couldn’t see everything.
Here’s the shock news, a bloke called John Northey is coming to live in Lara. He rang the other day and called in for a chat. I mentioned to the Club that Northey was coming to town but didn’t want to coach, in the meantime their coach has resigned for personal reasons, this is where the pressure now comes in.
Would Northey become a mentor to their new coach whoever that may be, would his old mate from the successful BFL days join him? Stay tuned there might be a bit of life in the old dogs yet, but the game has moved on luckily I see it every week and know what’s expected at Carlton. I did coach the coach once or twice, he may still take notice of his former right hand man?
What advice would you have for all the junior boys and girls starting their football and netball careers at Redan?
My only advice to anyone wishing to be a part of a football or netball club would be make sure you enjoy what you are doing, try to be better than your opposition and work on your skill to achieve that, and for parents who interfere or the ugly parent syndrome get rid of them from your club as it can and does cause a cancer. The club that circles together stays around longer.
Reserves Coach 1983
with Ron Andrews at a Save the Lions dinner.
At City Oval with Tony Quinney
Greg Packham - 1981 Henderson Medal Count
1982 BFL Interleague side
with Michael Ronaldson and Tony Quinney - Team of the Century dinner