Russell Tweeddale - My Redan Story
What are some the highlights and your earliest memories of your junior football days? Did you play Junior football elsewhere before joining Redan?
I only played two years in Redan juniors in the U/18's. I signed up for U/16's but in the first year got knocked off my bike doing a paper round and virtually missed that year of sport and the second year was when the team went premiers and champions and I was not good enough to get a game.
In U/18's I'd grown seven inches in six months and the first year we were Runners up and the second year ended top but lost both finals. That year I won the Best Player in finals.
You were also a talented Basketballer growing up playing for VIC Country in the national championships. What was it that convinced you to pick Football?
Back then football had all the profile, financial benefits and career path, but even though my preferred sport was basketball, I never had the talent to go too much higher than what I achieved.
You debuted as an 18yo in the senior side during 1973. What were your impressions of the club did you play senior football that season?
I did not really want to play at Redan as some of my mates were playing at Wendouree, a club my father had also played so I wanted to join them.
Redan would not clear me so I stood a lot of the year on sidelines and after June 30th, realised watching my mates may have been nice, but I wanted to play so went back to Redan.
I played a couple in the Reserves then got a chance in the seniors against Maryborough. As the club was on bottom being thrashed most weeks, I think at Full Forward I only got one touch, a shot for goal from about 50 and with a cold leg could not make distance.
The next week against Daylesford was nice weather and ended up with an award, but next week sent back to the reserves to qualify for finals. We got done in Preliminary Final. I really did not mingle at club that much as I went off to be with mates where they were.
What do you remember of your first Redan Coach Barry Smart and who were some of the players who went out of their way to help you settle in?
Barry Smart was my first coach in 1973, as I said I only played two games in seniors, but knew him personally as his sister was married to Fred Doro and they lived across the street from me.
We're talking over forty years ago and his style alludes me, but he was a nice bloke. He did tell one of my mates I'd play at VFL level, which was nice but I did scoff at it.
As for the players around, I'm sure the likes of John Burt, Daryl Chibnall were around, but I did not get too involved as I was off with my mates elsewhere.
John Northey arrived in 1974 and the club was about to enter a golden era. Can you describe the ways in which John changed the culture, training methods and game plan?
Well the GREAT man was a blessing to both the club and myself.
I did not take to him much at first as I was fairly lazy and blase about my approach to everything (especially my studies) and he was strong on training hard and demanded
we approached the sport with a winning mentality.
I loved his training as it was never boring and always relevant to game days. As far as game plans, it was if we all play better as a team, not have a weak link but in reality too far back to remember details. He got into the club players that would achieve this
Was it obvious even back then that he was destined for the VFL/AFL?
Well I never actually thought much about it until John Northey asked me to join him and Doc Hepper at a BBQ at Creswick where he took me aside and pointed out if I took a better approach and not be blase about the game, I had enough ability to go onto VFL.
Coming off a ten win season and Preliminary Final loss to eventual champion Maryborough, how confident were you during season 1975 that the side was capable of winning a flag?
Well I was that confident I told St. Kilda I did not want to go down there this year as I wanted to be part of the 1975 premiership, as it was 23 years since the club has won one.
What are your recollections of the 1975 Grand Final, your role in the side and how confident were you that Doc Hepper would kick the winning goal?
Good recollections are I did play well until got carted off just after half time. Then there was seeing Wayne Lyle's jaw move in different directions when Doc was assessing him in the sheds.
I had just got off the table in the sheds and came out as Doc was kicking it, and over the years saw him perform many tricks with cards etc, so felt he'd do the same.
You played in the 1976 Premiership side that defeated Golden Point by six points. Which of the two Grand Finals did you feel was your better game and were you fortunate enough to play in any more premiership sides?
I'd say 1976 outweighed 1975 mainly due to the conditions and style of football and I was able to see whole game out without injury. I did play in three or four others Grand Finals but lost them all. I played in countless with ACMY & Celtic in basketball.
At what stage were you aware of St Kilda’s interest and what were some of the biggest adjustments you needed to make to make the grade at VFL level?
1975 was the year they showed interest and probably the biggest adjustment was the speed.
Following VFL debut against Geelong, The Age praised your game and described your ‘terrier-like-go-in-and-get-it style’. What are your recollections of that first game and who was your opponent?
I was lucky enough to get two Brownlow votes in this game on one of the Nankervis brothers. First impression was the crowd roar when entering the ground, but the pace and relentless pressure.
You played 51 games over four seasons, what were some of the highlights and who were some of your toughest opponents?
Won best First year player in 1977 and also the television in a night game. Finishing third in overall count for player of series.
I played on the likes of Francis Bourke, Alex Jesaulenko but toughest clearly was Bruce Doull. Dirties would have been Stan Magro or Manassa from Collingwood.
You played under Ross Smith and Mike Patterson during three seasons with the Saints and moved to Footscray in 1980 under Royce Hart. Tell us a little about each of them and the process of changing clubs.
Ross Smith was a gentleman and so was his coaching approach, Mike Patterson, like Royce Hart were excellent orators with good training methods, but were difficult to know and approach, especially Hart, who was the reason I walked out on Footscray.
I changed clubs initially as thought I could still live in Ballarat as Saints were making Ballarat boys move down, plus financial incentives.
Is there a match where you felt you belonged at VFL and one in particular that stands out as your best match?
I guess the first match getting two Brownlow votes and three against Francis Bourke, plus the night games seemed to sit well with me.
When you played with St Kilda, Ballarat was part of its recruiting zone. With the controversy surrounding academies and introduction of multi-cultural and indigenous zones for Victorian clubs, was the league right to ditch zones in favour of the National Draft?
I did feel the zoning was a little off with Ballarat closer to Footscray and St. Kilda closer to Gippsland (Footscray's zone) but for progress sake felt was right way to go.
Like another former Redan Premiership player Isaac Smith, you also debuted as a 22 year old at the highest level. In his recent My Redan Story, he saw merit increasing the draft age. Do you share that view?
Well I can see both sides as I was not mature enough to move on until at least 21, but the likes of Ian Baker definitely was.
The kids today are more like Ian in their maturity and approach, but there'll also be others like myself.
You returned to Redan in Season 1981 as Captain with John Northey back at the helm a year prior. Tell us about your second stint with the club and some of the highlights?
It was a long cold year and the highlight was winning the Country title with the representative team. Sadly we got hammered in the Grand Final but just being back at Redan, having the likes of Don Discher, Terry MacAliece, John Geary, Herbie Packham &
the late Phil Walsh as teammates was special.
Which of your Redan teammates impressed you most who were some of your toughest opponents in the BFL?
The teammate that clearly stands out whether it was Redan, St. Kilda or any other club I've played with as being the best was Graeme Gellie, but then I've been fortunate to play with Henderson medallist Peter "Shooter" Merriman and David Jenkins.
Ian Baker was along with Dennis Murphy the toughest lads I played alongside, Bakes from his presence and approach, Murf for his complete recklessness and lack of fear.
As for opponents Maurice O'Keefe was a hard man to keep under control due to his speed and ball winning skills and Neil Desailly, while I never incurred his wrath and usually played well on him, did have that you never know what he'll do factor.
How would you describe yourself as a player?
I believe I had very good skills, able to use both sides of the body, with some thinking I was a leftie when in fact was a rightie, and played in every position other than rucking.
As for the rest I did better than I should have, but should have done better than I did. As stated before I was very blasé about the game and never really approached it in a way that would have taken me further, thus saying I did better than I should have with this attitude.
You had a couple more stints before playing your final game with Redan in 1990. How much had the club changed in that time and were there signs of what was about to come to a head in 1998?
I never got into what the club was or was not doing, my main care was to just be one of the lads. How 1998 came to be for me is unknown as I moved to Cairns in 1992, and while following results the rest I know little of.
You generously allowed the Redan Past Players and Officials to renovate your home to help raise funds for the club. Tell us how this all came about and the amount of work that was completed on the house?
Tony Quinney was the main man behind all this. Dad's health was failing and had been trying to lure him to Cairns. Then when "T" came to me with this concept it was what made him make the move.
Have you been to see any of the Redan premierships in recent years and how would those sides measure up against the 1975-77 sides?
No I've not seen any, it's a costly venture for 3,500km away so I'll refrain from commenting other than to say as individuals I'm sure there are some that would rank a game in the other sides, but as far as teams I'm not in a position to comment or would comment if I'd seen any.
You are living in Cairns these days, what is life like up there and have you followed the careers of the former Redan players playing with the Cairns Saints?
Moved here in 1992 and worked in junior development with CAFL/QAFL, did play for Saints in their first year 1993 as a 39 year old.
After finishing with the job in end of 1996 I kept away from football locally preferring to watch the pros on TV. I knew the lads from Redan were playing and did go to Grand Finals as a spectator only.
I have it on good authority that growing up, you had a ring on the garage you used as a target to practice your skills. For all the junior boys and girls who play football at Redan, how else did you develop your skills growing up?
That ring was painted on the side of the house as my basketball ring.
I was lucky to grow up in Waller Avenue, beside Trevor and Gary Bennett on one side and Robert and Ken Sarah the other side (all great Redanies), with a small oval which was termed "the island' in middle of the street where many a match was held.