Simon Remington - My Redan Story
Tell us about your earliest footy memories and junior highlights.
My first memories of playing football were at St Columba's Primary in Grade Prep. I had no interest in football but my mates started playing and despite the unforgiving asphalt surface we played on, soon developed a love for the game.
After a short stint at North Under 10's on the old Northern Oval, I didn't play again until Under 14s. We had a gun side that didn't lose a game featuring three future Redan Premiership players in Dru Quinlan, Jarrod Edwards and Mark Verberne.
My highlights were being part of U/14 and U/16 Premiership sides which went through undefeated, making the U/15 Inter-league side and a Club Under 14 B&F runner up where I headed those three champions (major mileage out of that last one!).
North Ballarat left the BFL in 1997, tell us about the move to Redan.
I trained with the VFL that off-season and while certainly not a VFL caliber player, did every session and tried to get as much as I could out of the experience. While I only manged one VFL reserves game for the Roosters, it was still a pre-season that helped my football immensely.
While I didn't know many players at Redan, I felt there was an opportunity to play Senior football and help a struggling club. Despite the beatings we took each week, I felt at home in my first season and never considered leaving.
What were those initial seasons like with no success to speak of?
The senior side perhaps only comprised of two or three players that would get a game at any other club. The rest of us were fringe seniors or reserves players trying our best to keep Redan competitive ahead of a crop of juniors we felt could lift the club's fortunes.
We failed to win a match in 1997 or 1998 and would lose by 30 to 50 goals most weeks. While it was tough to front up week in week out knowing you were going to be smashed, there was still a good camaraderie among the players and no infighting.
There was a huge reliance on Uni students to fill our side and during school holidays, we would see as few as six players at training.
Take us through the lead up to the formation of the 'Save the Lions' group.
In 1998 we were really struggling in terms of on field performance, even fielding a side was a real battle. A lot of my teammates would play two games, something looking back now I regret not doing.
We were due to play Darley mid-way through the season and had only 16 or so players combined for the seniors and reserves. Our President Peter Loughnan (Flogga) decided to forfeit and within days we were all huddled in the Western Oval listening to the state the club had found itself in and there was a real chance we were about to fold.
Not long after this the Save the Lions group was formed and little did we know the club was about to embark on the most successful era in its history all on a shoestring budget with some of the worst facilities in the league. Culture wins in the long run.
Tell us about the drought breaking win against Daylesford in 1999.
Daylesford were also battling at that stage, the Full Forward I lined up on that day was 40 years old and hadn't played for some time. While not wanting to tarnish probably the only time I was named best in the seniors, it was still great to play well in a match that was just as big as winning a Grand Final. I haven't seen a crowd that animated at the City Oval since.
There were plenty of tears for long suffering supporters and the crowd flooded the oval as it was the first win in four or five years for the senior side. It was such a special win to be part of and easily the best win of my career.
Tell us about your coaches in the first few years with the club.
Matt Jones was a very inspirational coach with his pre-match addresses but also put a lot of thought into his messages and training methods. He has since become involved with the Dandenong Stingrays and gave me great confidence to make the jump from Under 18s into Senior Football.
Marty Cusack was someone who led more so by his actions on the field and was a fearless competitor. He appointed me to the leadership group that season and despite the on field results, still drove high standards at training and maximum effort on game day.
Barry Hills I credit for finding my natural position deep in defense. He played me at Full Back midway through that season and played some of my best footy as a result. He really pushed us hard that pre-season, I still remember some of the hills we ran at Kirks Reservoir for all the wrong reasons!
Describe the impact of Brett Quinlan on the club.
Brett Quinlan made Redan relevant and in very little time, a premiership contender. Having Brett as coach gave everyone around the club a degree of confidence and belief that we were going to rebuild Redan into a force once more.
Brett's leadership, recruiting ability, tactical nous, charisma and ability to get the best out of players were all elite. He always refers to the people around him who helped and while he is correct, without Brett I just don't see those two flags coming so soon into the rebuild.
Kieran Murrihy took over from Brett in 2004, tell us about some of his strengths.
Following Brett would have been a lot of pressure for Kieran but to me it was a seamless transition. The club was lucky to replace one champion coach with another. Both won flags in their third season and both are dual Premiership coaches of Redan and without question legends of our club.
Kieran probably wore his heart on his sleeve as much as any coach during my time at the club. He was also tactically very strong and trained the side in very game specific ways. Very caring and still playing some great footy into his thirties.
While I only played reserves during 2004 and 2005, Kieran telling me I played well in my last game in 2005 meant a hell of a lot to me as I had so much respect for him.
Kieran like Brett I felt could have made been terrific assistant coaches in the AFL. It was a privilege to listen to their addresses and learn from them.
Was there a particular game which stood out in Brett's first season where things looked to be on the right track?
The win over Sunbury at the City Oval was almost as big as the Daylesford win. It was a much bigger scalp and Redan's first win over that club. We did have a few players on permit from North (Jake Bridges and Jayden Reid) who would later win premierships at Redan, our emerging nucleus of young players but also some hold overs from the late 1990s such as Marty Cusack, Dave Ogilvie and myself.
Are there are any other games which stick out during your time with the club?
In 2004 I played in a losing 2nd semi and Preliminary final, both by around one goal. A young Ryan Waight had a lot to answer for in the Preliminary final by not running through the interchange area properly and not being allowed to come back onto the field in the first quarter! It would have been terrific to win either of those two games and have a chance to finish my career with a shot at a Reserves Premiership.
From a senior perspective the other match which really sticks out was the Melton South game in 1997 where we managed to stay within ten goals. In the context of that season it was almost like a win and we will put it down to 'Father and Son' being played in the rooms and as sung as we ran out onto the field and Ian Morelli's chant of kick it to the rainbow!
Who would be the best five players you've played with at Redan and your toughest opponent?
Dru Quinlan - Players who can change the course of a match are rare but Dru did this on many occasions for the club in some massive games. Such a talented player, great leader on and off the field and his sense of humour is unsurpassed.
Jay Dineen - Courage and determination personified. Jay's attack on the football was sensational and he gave his all every single time he took the field. Nobody hated losing more than Jay during the late 1990s, he really took it personally and was hell-bent on not simply rolling over in those hammerings we often took.
Brett Stone - Very classy midfielder with great poise. He would have been a big chance to play in the 2002 side if he was still with the club, that's how good 'Grassy' was.
Simon Markham - I only played one season with 'Pup' but he was a ferocious player with great pace. He was a great compliment to Dru in the midfield and it's a shame he had moved on ahead of the premiership success which was soon to follow.
Luke Cooney - Not too many 17 year olds can debut in the seniors and provide outstanding leadership in their first game and string a lot of great matches together in their rookie season. A superb ruckman who was great around the ground and went on to play in the 2002 Premiership side.
Special mentions to Adam Wilson who won the B&F in 1999 aged 17, Rick Cummins who won it aged 18 or 19 the following season and Brendan O'Brien. Mark Parriman had he not been injured after a few games in 1998 also would have been a likely top five player.
My toughest opponent was David Barnes the Full Forward from Darley. I recall one day he kicked eight goals on me but the ball was kicked to us at least 20 times that day so it wasn't as bad as it sounds. Once we improved I faced him again one day at the City Oval and held him goalless apart from a two goal burst in the space of one minute!
Describe yourself as a footballer.
A reliable defender with good pace and skills but not a huge ball winner. Came to the club as midfielder but ended up playing my best footy at full back.
How would you describe the Redan culture and spirit.
A club that has had to fight hard for everything it has achieved and attracts people who want to be at our club for the right reasons.
The success that this club has achieved is remarkable considering it's never had the best facilities, never been a financially strong club and at least in recent living memory, has not had a large supporter base. That's what makes this club and the success it's had so special and rewarding for the people involved.
How did the Redan website come to be developed?
While I had no formal web design training, I was keen to get a site started for Redan during season 2000. Brad Paatsh was the catalyst as he suggested contacting a company called PC Host and from there things started to develop.
The site was very basic and slowly evolved over the seasons and the amount of content started to grow. The original site ran for nine seasons and it certainly helped engage with our supporters all over the country before the advent of social media.
One of the great initiatives was 'Inside the Den' which was written by Dru Quinlan over a season or two. As the name suggests it was all about the players and main figures around the club and never failed to disappoint. Sadly I've lost those stories which were funnier than most Australian TV comedy shows.
After I stepped down from the role, Paul Brick and Tim Matthews ran a new site but this was eventually superseded by the club's Facebook page which still plays a vital role today.
In 2015 Tracey Boyce suggested creating a new website. At that stage I'd discovered Wix and thought it would be ideal for the new site and spent the off-season building a new one from scratch. While the club's Facebook page lends itself beautifully to the day to day news and photo galleries, the main role of the website is to keep our club's history well documented and the level of content would rival any football club including AFL.
Tell us about the 'My Redan Story' project and how it came to be.
I decided it was time to get a collection of stories together of football players, netball players and officials from different eras. One of the main reasons was to re-connect with people who were no longer involved and through us having a generation of past football players with no premiership reunions (1978 to 2001).
Another purpose of this project is to show prospective players and junior families how special this club has been to so many people for many years.
It was fantastic to track down the likes of Jack Atkinson of the 1946 Premiership side plus a number of 1952 Premiership players. A snapshot into that era is now online for future generations of Redan supporters to read about.
Fred Carpenter and Ted Neville were fantastic to interview and I am fortunate to have gotten to know those two men better when I interviewed them last year. In doing so I was able to use that information to assist with other interviews.
Getting to meet club legends such as Graham Wiley and Bill Ebery (who passed away recently) was also a privilege. The amount of effort put in by Kate McMahon and Jake Bridges with their stories was also fantastic.
We definitely need more netball stories and in time female footballers. Obviously there is a much smaller pool of past players so this will always be more of a challenge.
Most people are really good story tellers and will never write an auto biography so hopefully My Redan Story gives them that chance. Very few people asked have knocked back a request so there is always someone who can be interviewed.
The interviews are all individually researched and on average take around three hours to prepare, edit, organise photos and then post online. Fred Carpenter's was around 20 hours of work but was extremely rewarding and useful with many other interviews.
In most cases I've emailed questions but with some of our older past players not online, sent a few through the mail or conducted interviews over the phone.
I hope to continue this project for many years and hopefully produce a few hundred stories that can remain online for as long as the Redan FNC exists.
Tell us about coaching the Redan Under 10s.
Justin Catley was a teammate of mine in the late 1990s and Under 10 Senior Coach in 2016. He asked me to get involved when my son Josh decided he wanted to play at Redan. At first I was Assistant Coach in the Development side but was then handed the Coaching role of the Reserves side.
I had never coached before and decided to give it a shot. After finding my feet in the first few weeks, I soon came to really enjoy the role and watching the players develop. They are a really exciting and talented group of players that I am confident will have success and represent the club very well over the next decade or more in some cases.
Taking over as Head Coach in 2017 has been an even greater challenge through planning our training sessions, match day and trying to develop each player and the group as a whole. I've also worked closely with Grant Wooller (a champion Redan Junior player) in these two seasons and formed a great relationship with him during this time.
Describe the honour of winning the Phonse Weekes Best Club Person Award in 2016.
This was extremely humbling and the only award of any nature I've won during my 20 year involvement at Redan. In my speech, I referenced Ted Neville's interview which also discussed his pride in winning this award.
What it shows is that anyone can get involved with a club like Redan and make a real impact through giving up your time to help enrich the club in some way.
Dru Quinlan once said that in all clubs there are 'givers' and 'takers' and I think Redan has a lot more of the former which is why our culture is the envy of most clubs.
The people who completed the interviews obviously had a lot to do with me being recognised in this way.
What are some of the other roles you've had with the club?
I spent just the one season on the board in 2006. Unfortunately I wasn't advised of the board photo being taken so was taken aback to see my solo shot ended up on the Premiership Photo
and was almost bigger than the team photo! We webmasters like to fly under the radar generally.
As mentioned in 2016 I took on a junior coaching role with the Under 10s and really enjoyed that. Coaching my son Josh has also been one of the highlights of my time with the club, he has a lot more talent than I did at that age and will be a much better player.
There is also a family connection at Redan through my father Warwick serving as club treasurer of the club for ten years and is now a life member. He had no prior link to Redan before I came to the club as a player and certainly fell in love with the place too.
Describe what it was like to see some of your teammates take out the 2002 Senior Premiership.
I've been lucky to watch each of Redan's last six flags and while a few were very exciting games of footy, nothing can compare with 2002. That side broke a 25 year drought and was the reward for all the people who had helped the club from the brink in the late 1990s.
It was great to see Dru Quinlan become a Premiership Captain of Redan, Mark Verberne a Senior Premiership player and Julian Vallance (my tennis doubles partner) win a premiership at such a young age. Seeing all these guys I'd played with taste the ultimate success was a thrill and you wouldn't be human if you didn't want to have been good enough to be part of that side with them.
What compelled you to try to play football again at age 39?
There were quite a few reasons. The challenge it presented, getting fit again, the love of playing, inspired by the My Redan stories I've worked on, getting out and meeting people and providing an example to my sons of what you can do if you work hard.
A mate who I play tennis with suggested giving super rules a try as I was keen to have another kick for a few years. I decided to train with Redan initially but was enjoying it so much that when quite a few reserves players left during the off-season, thought I would try to play here instead. The lure of wearing the Redan jumper once again was massive.
I did most of the pre-season, lost a heap of weight and ended up fitter than when I last played at 27 (thanks James 'Jimma' Wilson). Peacy (Senior Coach Brendan Peace) and the players have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome and while I'd be one of the last picked in the side most weeks, the fact that I've made it back out onto the field and played quite a few matches would be my proudest sporting achievement.
Running out onto the field with players over twenty years younger than me might sound insane but once the game starts, we are all just teammates and trying to win a game of footy.
You are a keen student of Redan's History.
Yes through the work I've done on the Redan website, My Redan Story, the many discussions I've had with club historian Ian Pym and involvement with Hall of Fame nights I've developed a genuine interest in our club's rich history.
Hearing about some of the recruitment of Keith Rawle and his influence, the goal kicking feats of Bill 'Bomber' Wells, the rabbit drives used to help finance the club in the 1950/60s, the impact of John Northey and the late 1990s survival tale which I witnessed first hand are just some examples of stories that have inspired me.
I am however mindful of the work we still have to do with Netball and have started to make some inroads in the last twelve months.
It's also really good to see the likes of Sam Giblett, Jordan Baker, Dean Matthews, Ben Schiltz and Will Madden take a real interest in My Redan Story and it's not uncommon for some of these stories to receive over 100 likes on Facebook.
What advice do you have for the juniors starting their junior careers with Redan?
Firstly you've chosen to play at a club with a terrific culture and as you get older, you will understand what that means and how important it is to have.
Try to get better in at least one area in every single training session. Strive to be a teammate that makes your teammates better players.