Steve Braybook - My Redan Story
Where did you grow up and what are some of your earliest football memories and highlights of your junior career?
I grew up in Ballarat most of my life and was born in Ballarat in 1959. I went to primary and secondary school in Ballarat.I did live in Melbourne when I was around five years old and this was when I had my first real memory of VFL football as I went to an Essendon v St Kilda game at Windy Hill with friends from Melbourne and loved it, it was then I started barracking for the Bombers.
I started playing football at age eight years. One of my major highlights was being one of the best on ground in the U/16 premiership team when Alan Jeans St Kilda coach was there watching and after the game he spoke to Joffa Cunningham regarding coming to train and play for St Kilda and during the conversation he asked if I would like to come with Joffa as well. I never did.
Did you go on to play football and were you fortunate enough to be part of any premiership sides?
I played u/12 and u/14 football for CYC F.C and played as Vice Captain of a losing u/14 Grand Final side. I then played for Golden Point U/16 and went runners-up in the first year and won the premiership in the second year defeating Redan. I went on to the U/18 at Point and we won the Premiership again defeating Redan but in my second year of U/18 football I was recruited by Wendouree F.C to play seniors and Reserves, I was only there for that one year.
I had a couple of years of playing due to work commitments, but then I came back and played for Golden Point Reserve grade and played in a premiership with them. I stayed on for another year before being recruited to go and play senior football for Primrose in the Maryborough/Castlemaine League which was great experience. After a good season with them I again had to give football away due to work commitments. Then at age 30 I started coaching junior football.
Who or what was it that attracted you to the Redan FNC and what were you initial impressions?
I had just finished coaching Ballarat FC U/18 team in 1997 to the finals and was going to have the next year off and not coach. It was a few weeks after the season and I was at home when a knock at the door, when I answered it was Peter Loughnan and a couple of others to have a chat about me coming to coach U/18 Footy at Redan in 1997.
We had a good chat and they really made me interested as well as they were friendly and talking about the Redan history and family connection. Then the real challenge came when they explained they had a list of only ten U/18 players for 1997 and had only won one game for the past three years, this I took as a big challenge and inspired me to take the coaching role and see if I could help improve the Redan FC.
Following North Ballarat’s departure from the BFL only a few years prior, Redan took on a large number of former North juniors to form the Redan Roosters. Take us through how this unfolded.
We were just starting our preseason when Peter Loughnan approached me after training and said that he had spoken with North Ballarat and there was a chance to recruit a lot of the players who had finished playing with their U/16 side as they did not want to go to Daylesford or East Ballarat.
I asked Peter to get me a list from North which he did, but I had also spoken with Marty Porter who went to St Patricks School and he had also informed me he was trying to get a few boys he went to school with from North to come to training. Off the list I was given from Peter I went and visited Sam Giblett, Luke Cooney, Rick Cummins and Mat Purvis at their homes to have a chat and see if they would give me a week’s training to see if they would like to play for Redan as well as I outlined my thoughts on where the club was at and what I hoped to achieve that season.
Those boys, Ryan Head and a couple that Marty Porter spoke to at St Patricks arrived about a week later and trained with the club and after training we had more talks and they decided to stay as well as bring a few other players with them which we eventually got twelve boys from North Ballarat.
The one thing I told all the players from both Redan and North as well as others we recruited was how special it would be if we could help the Redan FC win some games and hopefully play in the finals which hopefully would help the club in its rebuild and get them off the bottom of the ladder.
You know it is funny how people talk about how certain senior coaches and players with the Save the Lions committee in and around 2001/2002 saved Redan and made it what it is today, well I am sorry to say they came well after the club was being saved by this bunch of players, Flogger, myself, Richard Godfrey-Roberts, Barry Hills, Justin Cately and others.
Just think what if Flogger and myself did not meet North or go and recruit these players and agree to the name Redan Roosters it may never have happened, and it was the players deeds and success in those two years that helped save the club as without them we would have had no North Ballarat involvement and a lot of parents who did fundraising. More importantly the players were the nucleus and backbone of the senior side from 2000 onwards so I think these people need more recognition for the hard work and ground work that was done to achieve success and help put the club where it is today.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced brining the new players in?
I can remember at training the first night I told the original Redan players from the U/18 list and those who come up from the U/16’s about the boys from North would be coming to Redan and there was a bit of apprehension and animosity between some of the players from the two groups. When we had the majority of both North and Redan players at training one night I said that we are all now one team at one club and had to learn to play together as mates to be a successful team and we had to learn to be friends off the ground as well for this to happen and we all now wear the Redan jumper together as one and wear it with pride.
So a lot of the problems we first had were getting the group to be a close knit group of mates who would back each other up on or off the field as well as getting them all training together as one team as a group with good training drills. We were also lucky that a few Redan and North fathers were happy to get involved with helping as Team manager, the runner and assistant coach which helped.
After each practice match and the first few games we would try to get most of the players together to watch the seniors and just hang out so as to get a stronger bond with each other as well as going back to my place or one of the players parents like Richard Godfrey-Roberts who was fantastic at helping the boys get to know each other.
Who were some of the players who showed the greatest amount of development while you were coaching the side?
We had some great players come from North but also from the Redan U/16 side and a couple who were originally with the U/18 group. J Papaluca developed into a strong fullback, M Porter (captain) was fantastic at centre halfback & midfield, L Murphy, J McAninly, N Dunne, S Gibblet, M Purvis, L Cooney, B Penhall, J Simkin, R Cummins, J Valance, R Head and B Phelps where some of the most promising players who should have played Rebels but could not get a go.
Then in the second year we had players like J Rumble, S Godfrey-Roberts, P Brick, J Porter, A Barker, M Sordello, B Johnstone, and others who were very good players. You will find most of these players went on and played senior football for Redan. Also most played senior football for various clubs over the years.
Take us through some of your favourite memories of the back to back Premiership sides you coached in 1998/1999.
Some of the best memories I have is the friendships made with people within and around the club but most importantly was the players. We were a mixed bunch of footballers at the start but the bond that grew, the mateship that grew was very important to me as this was the start of something special.
The biggest memory was seeing this group grow and develop into a great tight team who fell into third spot in 1998, then to go on and defeat Sunbury who was undefeated in the Second Semi Final was absolutely fantastic but to then see them fight hard in the Grand Final and again defeat Sunbury was the biggest and best memory I have ever had playing or coaching in my life.
It is special to see a bunch of young guys come together from all over the place, then bond together, become best mates and believe in what the coach and club are trying to do, then win a premiership, very proud, very proud of them all.
Our second Premiership in 1999 was just as good to go undefeated champions and was also very special with the group we had. I enjoyed it as much as the previous premiership and was proud and happy that in the two seasons we had the nucleus of a good senior side which is what we all aspired to achieve.
Part of my memories was getting the club to recruit Barry Hills as senior coach in 1998 as he was a good mate and looking for a coaching job and had great senior coaching experience and was a positive person and helped develop some of the U/18 boys by playing them in the senior side which was a big positive and influence for the boys to take into our U/18 games especially the finals. I also believe that this was the making and start of the club rebuild for the future.
Did you find it a challenge coaching such a dominant side in terms of keeping the players focused each week and not getting ahead of themselves as a group or as individuals?
I did find it a challenge at first to coach all the different players from different clubs and backgrounds but the hardest was dealing with all the different personalities. Once we all came together at training the boys were very good to coach as I found some of the boys from North who had trained with the Rebels were very motivated and helpful to others regarding skills and playing ideas.
As the season progressed it became easier as all the players enjoyed training and could see we were all on the same page in what we wanted to achieve. This carried over to the second year as well as we had invited some of the U/16 players to help out and play some games with us during the first season so they got to know what we were about as well as become good mates with the U/18 boys.
It was funny that in the two years we won premierships, I never felt the team or the players ever got ahead of themselves or took things for granted, they always seemed level headed and challenged by the next game we had coming up.
What did you feel was your greatest strength as a coach and what were some of your major philosophies teaching those side?
I think one of my strengths was dealing with individual personalities and bringing the group together as one. I think you have to treat the players all the same and not have favourites, to be honest and up front with the players. Be careful in having a variety of training drills so the players don’t get bored but also allow them to enjoy the game and not be too restricted in the way you want them to play their position.
Adhering to team rules during and after the games, no fighting or abusing of each other as teammates and allowing players to come to you with any suggestions or if they just want to talk to you, so be open to them. Most of my training drills I developed and designed myself as you need to have training drills that will benefit the team as well as the individuals in the way you want them to play so I found it enjoyable to come up with different drills the players had not done before but fitted our game style which was defend first have a player a kick behind the play, when we have it spread and run and carry.
I was also lucky that in the years 1997,1998 and 1999 I coached the Ballarat U/18 combined Interleague side which I gained some great coaching experience. From this I also learnt more about player welfare. Whilst coaching the Interleague team we played ten games and won seven of them, during this time being involved with various other senior coaches it helped develop some of my philosophies and teachings of U/18.
What did you enjoy most about coaching at Redan?
I enjoyed the people within and around the club as they were always there to help give advice and made it enjoyable to come to the club during training and game day. Some of the clubs I coached at before Redan, they were enjoyable but not as open and family orientated as what I found at Redan.
I also found the supporter base and a lot of the parents were great to get along with and a lot would help out if needed. Then there is the players themselves who were great to coach, so my time at Redan was very fun filled and enjoyable all round.
Were you able to witness the drought breaking 2002 Senior Premiership and what was it like seeing so many of your former players out there that day?
Unfortunately I did not get to see the 2002 senior premiership as I was in hospital in Melbourne, this is the reason why I stopped coaching. But on the other side I could not have been more happy for the club and very proud of the boys who had started from the U/18 teams.
A lot of the boys had made a promise in the two years I coached them that they would stay at Redan until the seniors where back on their feet and won a premiership. So for them to stick to the promise and achieve their goal was just fantastic, as I said I could not be more proud of them.
Realistically, did you feel those boys would help form the nucleus of a senior premiership side in two season’s time?
Yes I did believe that most of the boys could be the nucleus of the senior premiership team as most had played some senior footy whilst playing U/18 footy against some top senior sides and acquitted themselves very well. So this was no surprise to me at all. The hope was they would stick together as promised which they did. If it weren’t for these boys we may never have had some of the success at the club.
What do you think clubs could do better to ensure more Under 18 players are progressing through to the senior ranks?
I do think clubs have to be more flexible with players in this age group as they go from a teenager to a man; also there are different sports they are playing at this age with their mates. They do not need added pressure about having to play just one sport or concentrate just on football.
I also am a believer that once every so often the senior players train with the U/18 side with the U/18 coach taking training which we did when I was coach. This gives the senior coach a night to sit an observe his players but also allows all the U/18 players to feel good enough to train with the seniors as it is with their own coach and drills whom they know and trust.
What do you make of the club’s turnaround since almost folding in 1998 to winning six senior football and one A Grade Netball premiership over the next two decades?
I think this is brilliant as it is good for the club but also for football in general. Redan have a long steep history and have produced some great Ballarat and VFL/AFL senior footballers over the years, it would have been a very sad day if the club had folded. It would have meant less players playing Senior, Reserve & U18 football as well as the club's history would have been gone.
I am proud of the club for what they did and how they made a stand and never gave up. I am also proud to have been a part of the rebuild back in 1998 and 1999 and am only sorry I had to give coaching away when I did as they remain the best memories and fun I have had in Football.
What are you up to these days and are you still following Redan and local football generally?
Yes I am still following the club at all levels to see how they are going and whether they are improving. I have had an interest in the club from the day I stopped coaching as I see Redan as a big part of my life and I care how they are travelling as a club and the teams.
I am doing nothing as after my accident I have not been able to work for some 20 years now, although I have just started playing golf again after all these years and would love to be coaching again but I haven’t quite made up my mind on this. I give a special mention to my wife who supported me with everything I did in football and was a pillar of strength with me during my injury as well.
What advice would you give the young boys and girls starting their careers with Redan?
My advice would be to the future players to embrace the club and cherish your time there as a player as it is a fantastic club to belong to and you will learn and be guided in the proper skills of the game and also be given the proper attitude to not only play the game but in life in general. I would let them know that once a Redan person always a Redan person for life as we always looks after our own. They also need to enjoy the game and enjoy learning the skills of the game.