JIMMY – KEEPING AN EYE ON THE COACHES…….

Jimmy Stone still gets as toey about football, as he did when he first started playing for his beloved Tarrawingee, 65 years ago.

Understandably so. His son is in his first year as coach of a Wangaratta side which is on a roll……

Expectations are high…..Jim mentally plays each game and knows full-well that the buck stops with Dean, the bloke in charge…….

Similarly, he feels for his grandson Connor, who debuted with the Magpies this year, and is working like heck to gain a footing in senior ranks……

And whenever he has flicked over to a Fremantle game in recent times, he’s winced as the TV cameras zoomed into the coach’s box to show a testy Ross Lyon swinging around and looking for answers from his assistants.

His first reaction was to hope that it wasn’t another son, Mark, who was feeling the heat…………
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

The Stone family features prominently in Wangaratta’s sporting heritage…….. The fascination of Jim’s dad Brien, for all sports rubbed off on his seven kids.

In the latter stages of his life Brien was Tarrawingee’s President for a decade or so, and his three boys and three of his sons-in-law played with the ‘Dogs at various stages.

Another passion was greyhound racing. He owned a succession of pacy ‘dishlickers’ which often bore the prefix ‘Medowra’ in their racing name. Medowra Lad was one of his stars, but Accumulated was possibly the pick of them.

Jim’s ascension to a marathon senior career with Tarra was unorthodox, to say the least.

His hectic school-day schedule in the forties included rising before dawn to ride trackwork for Tib and Hal Hoysted; then shooting off to muck out stables the moment the final school bell rang.

“I was having a lovely doze one day, when the teacher, old ‘Thunder’ Thorburn, rudely interrupted me during class. ‘What time do you get up, lad’ he said. I told him it was usually about 4.30. ‘No wonder you can’t stay awake. You may as well spend all day with the horses’ “

Jim literally took his advice. He served his apprenticeship with the legendary H.J.Hoysted and spent about eight years as a jockey. A St.Patrick’s Cup win on Deep Lagoon in 1950 was probably the highlight, but rising weight eventually forced him out of the saddle a couple of years later.

Fortune favoured him when he started playing football, as Tarrawingee, after many years of struggle, had developed a handy side. He slotted into the 1953 premiership line-up as a nippy rover with good skills and the ability to dispose of the pill with either foot.

His preparation for the Grand Final was slightly off-beat, though. He and Des (his brother and premiership team-mate) got up bright and early to milk the cows on the family farm.

“Then we thought, blow it, we don’t want to be coming back to the milking-shed if we happen to win the flag. So we put them through again at about 11.30 and headed off to the game.

By gee, we got some milk from them the next day ! “

Tarrawingee, coached by ex-Wangaratta strong-man Kevin French, proved too good for Greta and won their first-ever O & K title by more than seven goals.

Jim discerned the best way of running out the sore spots after footy – by playing Baseball on a Sunday during the winter. He shone as an out-fielder in a Tarra side which at one stage won four successive flags, during an era that saw the local game enjoy a rich vein of popularity.

He played tennis in the summer months, but later switched to cricket, and proved a more than handy bowling all-rounder for Tarrawingee. Operating off a short run, he bowled a nagging length and combined well with champion wicket-keeper, great mate and drinking partner Billy Fitzgerald.

Tarra assembled some pretty formidable footy sides towards the rear-end of Jimmy’s career.

He won his first club Best & Fairest in the premiership year of 1963, celebrated another flag in ‘64, and figured in five Grand Finals in a fruitful six seasons for the Tricolours.

He decided to step down a peg in the late 60’s after 315 senior games, finally bowing out after enjoying a swansong season as captain of the Reserves………….
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Jim and Bev’s three boys all started out with Junior Magpies. Knee injuries put paid to Darren’s sporting aspirations, but Mark and Dean have continued on football’s whirligig, in one direction or another, for more than 30 years.

They were blessed with similar on-field attributes; small and light like their old man, blessed with good skills – both hand and foot – and a shared willingness to have a ‘crack’.

Mark’s first job, with Westpac, took him to Wodonga. He had lined up in several games for the Bulldogs’ Thirds and had just made his senior debut, when he was belatedly suspended by the O & M for being an unregistered player.

“Some-one had overlooked the paperwork,” Jim recalls. “So he headed out to Howlong for a season.”

By this time, he had scored employment with an Automative Finance company in Melbourne, and joined Amateur team, Powerhouse (he won his Division’s Pepper Medal), followed by a couple of seasons with Ormond Amateurs.

He travelled back to play with Wangaratta for three years, had a stint with Moe, then joined Eastern District League club Ringwood, under former Benalla boy John Lamont.

Mark’s next move in employment took him to the Riverina, where Terry Daniher had turned Wagga Tigers into a classy unit. Friend and foe alike, admired the inimitable ‘T.D’, and Mark, who hit it off with him a treat , shared in a flag triumph and took out the Riverina F.L’s Quinn Medal.

In his first term as Daniher’s successor, he led the Tigers to another premiership. He was looking for a sea-change at the end of the following season, and responded to an advertisement from WAFL club South Fremantle , who appointed him Assistant-Coach.

Mark has since spent 15 years as a coaching assistant in the AFL. He was West Coast’s Stoppage and Opposition Analyst from 2003-‘07, under John Worsfold, and took over as a Sydney Assistant and Stoppage Coach under Paul Roos, from 2008-11.

He headed back to the West in 2012, when Fremantle snapped him up as an Assistant.

He held a variety of positions in his six years with the Dockers, including midfield, forward-line and stoppage coach, and was one of Ross Lyon’s longest-serving off-siders. But he felt it was time to explore other options, and he informed Freo last week that he’d be leaving when his contract expired in October.

With his vast experience in all aspects of coaching, he’s is sure to be sought after as an Assistant in the AFL system.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Dean’s career, whilst not following the same trajectory as that of his elder brother, has also had a few whistle-stops.

After leaving the Junior League, he headed to Milawa for a season, before Wangaratta enticed him to his spiritual home. His re-location to the Border in his job with Reece Plumbing, saw him reunited with a good mate Dean Harding, at Wodonga, His next move was to Wagga Tigers, where he and Mark savoured successive flags.

Dean was lured out to powerful Farrer League club, The Rock-Yerong Creek, where he won a B & F and sampled his initial ‘baptism of fire’ as a playing-coach.

He played some great footy on his return to Wodonga, and shared the 1994 Best and Fairest with Jason McInnes. Unfortunately, after 57 games with the ‘Dogs, a damaged knee prematurely put paid to his playing career.

He remained involved in football for years as an Assistant at Wodonga, then, after accepting a job back in his home town, as a rep for C.U.B, led Wangaratta Thirds to a flag in 2015.

The Magpies, aiming to break a six-year finals drought in 2017, handed the coaching responsibility to this well-travelled football ‘nut’.

He has them well-placed. Club insiders are impressed that his thorough match-preparation and solid relationship with the playing group have been important facets of their run to the finals.

If they continue on, spare a thought for an 85 year-old fellah who’ll be riding every kick and bump, and scrutinising every coaching move…………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s