THE JOURNEYMAN

Hey…. There’s an upset brewing here. The 200/1 outsiders conceded 3 goals in the first few minutes of the match, yet have shot to a 3-goal lead at ½ time.

You’ve got to put this game into perspective. One team is coming off a 189-point win. It boasts a percentage of 871.43, compared to the meagre 36.10% of their opponents, who trudged off last week, humiliated to the tune of 135 points.

As expected, the favourites respond and move a couple of kicks clear in the dying stages. But again, the ‘scrubbers’ fight back and score a goal against the tide, in the best passage of play for the day.

With just seconds remaining, a tall boy streaks towards centre half forward and plucks a mark. He can steal a win for the underdogs…….We catch a glance at his coach, who has been out of the box and prowling the boundary for most of the last quarter, waving his hands like an orchestra conductor.

He runs his hands through his shaggy hair, his eyes fixed anxiously on the lad’s run-up,his kicking action and the ball,as it wobbles through. Schutty and his boys have clinched the unlikeliest of victories………

………………………………………………………………
Lionel Schutt comes from a football family. His dad Ross is an institution at Milawa, having played a stack of games with the Reserves,took on the Presidency, worked on the gate for what seemed like an eternity and waved the goal umpire’s flags for many years. His mum’s been a lion-hearted worker for the club.

It would be fair to say that Ross was unable to hand down any on-field skills to the youngster. But Lionel inherited an innate sense of what it takes to make footy clubs tick, how to build a happy atmosphere and have people working in the right direction.

He should have played a heap of O & M games, but a combination of work commitments  and a laconic attitude meant that the legend of Lionel Schutt was to be crafted in the Ovens and King League. It ensured that training – particularly in pre-season – could be fitted around his physically-taxing work as a painter and later, a sand-blaster.

He started with Milawa as a 15 year-old, way back in 1983. The following season he and his brother Brendan were members of the Demons premiership side. He had nine games under the coaching of Norm Bussell at Myrtleford in 1985, but suffered a knee injury and returned home in time to qualify for the Reserves Grand Final, which Milawa duly won.

He headed to North Wangaratta three years later, had a season with All Blacks in the Benalla Tungamah League, then crossed to Tarrawingee. He played his part in one of the most memorable of all O & K flags, in 1990, when Tarra came from the Elimination Final to kick 27 goals and defeat Moyhu by 71 points in the big one.

Schutty booted 8 goals that day,in a performance that clinched him the Medal for best afield. It was a satisfying win, in front of a record crowd at Greta that marvelled at the deeds of Darwin’s four mercurial Long brothers,who were strutting their stuff for the Bulldogs.

Another knee injury wrecked his 1994 season, but Ray Card, back coaching Wangaratta, enticed him to the Norm Minns Oval in 1995. Then it was back home to Milawa for a four-season stint as playing-coach, in which he took out three best and fairests.

His arrival at Moyhu in 2000 coincided with a golden era for the club. Schutty played in the 2002,’05 and ’06 flags but was denied another when he was rubbed out on the eve of the 2003 Grand Final. He gave great service to the Hoppers and is universally ranked among the greats of O & K football.

Damien Sheridan, who saw him close-up in his final decade as a player,said: “He gave the impression of being laid-back,but once he got on the ground he played for keeps.”

“As a midfielder or on-baller he was so strong,was a terrific kick and did the real team-lifting things. Besides all that, he was one of the best blokes you could have around the club. Money was never an issue with him. He just enjoyed the football environment”, Sheridan recalled.

His old coach Gil Ould once reflected: “You don’t play 400 games unless you are tough and you don’t get up from the big hits unless you have a heart as big as Lionel’s. No doubt he played and trained with injuries that would have put many off the playing arena,but he never complained. It’s not so much about his football ability, but what he brings to the club as a quality bloke”.

The Schutt career drew to a close at the end of the 2010 season. He had played 416 O & K games and decided it was time for he and Michelle to follow the sporting progress of the kids. Breanna, was now playing netball with the Rovers and Cody was taking big steps in his football development.

Well, he thought he’d retired. He was pressed into service with the Rovers Reserves and showed glimpses of the Schutty of old in 14 games in 2011 and ’12.

And when he was approached to coach the Two’s last season he couldn’t resist.

The Schutt family is now deeply involved at the Hawks. Michelle is on the Board, Breanna plays B-Grade netball, a knee injury has temporarily interrupted Cody’s exciting 12-game senior career.

And Schutty’s still wearing his heart on his sleeve. Amidst the excitement of last Saturday’s win he addressed the players and congratulated them on their win : “I told the boys last year – and it still stands. When I took the job on I wanted to be a coach, a mate and a parent to you all. You should be rapt in the way you stuck it out. Let’s celebrate it with a few beers tonight”.

Lionel S

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