‘HOGAN THE HERO………..’

Neville Hogan’s football accomplishments are widely-renowned. But it was a fiercely-fought squash match that, he reckons, embodied everything he loves about competitive sport.

Re-wind some 40 years ago : He’s pitted against the ‘unbeatable’ Terry Longton – rated among the best two or three players the town has seen.

They’re at it – ‘hammer and tongs’. In the fourth game Neville senses that he could be on the verge of a rare upset win . Then, gradually, the champ wrests back the initiative and, in a classic arm-wrestle, fights him off, to clinch the contest.

“I was knackered, and just slumped on the court for a minute or two. The game had drained everything out of me. Someone said “you must be disappointed” . I replied: ‘Not at all. I know I gave it everything. I just wasn’t good enough………..

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Tom and Tess Hogan and their tribe of nine kids landed in Callander Avenue, via Yerong Creek and Moyhu, in 1951.

When a young neighbor – Pat McDonald – spotted a few of the six boys having a kick, he convinced them that the Rovers were the team to follow because they were the underdogs in town.

“We all played with South Wanderers, in the Junior League, then when my older brother, Maurie, started at the Rovers I rarely missed watching a training night. I dreamed of playing with them and was mesmerised by Bob Rose and his training methods.”

He had played 50-odd games with the Wanderers when he was involved in the first of his nine footy flags, in 1960. A move to Melbourne the following year, to do his PMG technician’s training, saw him link up with Hawthorn 4ths. The only game they lost was in the opening round.

Despite the expectation that he would head to the City Oval when he returned home, Neville signed with Moyhu. “I just felt I needed a season of open-age footy under my belt before playing in the O & M,” he says.

After Moyhu had gone through unbeaten and he had won the Best & Fairest in 1962, he finally made the move to the Hawks.

In an underwhelming start for the prize recruit he was named as 19th man in the opening round. He then proceeded to win the first of his four club B & F’s.

He made an impression on Footscray’s recruiting officer Joe Ryan, who had popped up to watch him in action. But the Dogs’ were unable to pounce, as he was still tied to Hawthorn.

Another enthusiastic approach came from North Melbourne several years later, when they took over the O & M as part of their recruiting zone. ” I was in my mid-20’s and wasn’t keen on uprooting my life to play a handful of games of League footy,” he says.

His name crops up regularly, as another of those reluctant bush champs who bypassed the glamor and celebrity of the ‘big-time’. Neville has no regrets, though.

“I just loved the game and having a kick, and never felt I was too good for where I was playing. I copped my share of hidings from star players over the years, so I mightn’t have been up to it.”

Instead, he settled down to carve out a storied 15-year career with the Rovers, which was notable for his unyielding dedication towards training and match-preparation.

For those who missed seeing him in action, it’s apt to describe Neville as a 60’s version of recently-retired St.Kilda and North Melbourne star Nick Dal Santo…….. Silky skills…. unhurried…..hardly-ever caught……brilliant awareness…..and a deadly left boot which rarely failed to find its target.

And he just had the knack of finding the football. He had a huge fan in new Rovers coach Ken Boyd, who appointed him vice-captain at 19.

Later that year – 1964 – the Hawks overcame Wangaratta in a tight tussle, to win their third flag.

“It was memorable, because we were all young blokes -very close – and Boydy had us playing for him. We came back from Albury by train and a large crowd met us at the station. The celebrations lasted for weeks.”

The Rovers made it a double the following season. But one downside for Neville was that he lost his greatest supporter. His dad Tom collapsed with a heart attack, watching a match at Albury and died two days later.

He’s in no doubt that his finest personal year as a player came in 1966. By joining the immortals as a Morris Medallist, he had confirmed his status as a star of the game.

Three years later, Neville was confronted with a perplexing decision. Despite his intense loyalty to the club, he had become disillusioned with the coaching of Ian Brewer and felt that the Hawks were marking time. He considered, momentarily, the possibility of applying for other coaching jobs.

“We weren’t fit and change was definitely needed. I suggested to a couple of officials that they should chase Hawthorn’s Graeme Arthur as coach, but in the meantime he took on a coaching job at Echuca.”

“They had interviewed Richmond big man Mike Patterson, then our secretary, Ernie Payne, persuaded me to put in for it too.”

“Most of the other O & M clubs had high-profile coaches, so it was a big decision for them to appoint me.”

Any doubts about his qualifications were erased in the opening round of 1970. The Hawks belted Wangaratta by 80-odd points in front of a big crowd. Suddenly, the expectations of the fans rose and the players were right behind him.

Little did he realise it, but the Rovers were on the cusp of a ‘Golden Era’. However, it didn’t ease the pressure on the coach.photo

“Fear of failure was the thing that drove me. Even at the end of the first year, when we finished runners-up, I suggested to Jack Maroney (President) that I might give it away, as it was affecting my playing performance. The stress was the hardest part. ”

“Obviously Jack didn’t take any notice of me.”

Just as well. The Hawks won flags in 1971,’72, ’74 and ’75 and played in Grand Finals in all but one of the seven years he was in charge.

The 1974 title gave him the most satisfaction. “We’d been thrashed by Yarrawonga img_2467in the second-semi, being 9 goals down at three-quarter time. We won the Preliminary Final against North Albury, by a point, after trailing badly early.

“By quarter-time in the Grand Final we were 8 goals up. Everything just fell into place and I think we only lost in one position on the ground. It was a dream game,” he recalls. In a tactical masterstroke, Neville played as a ruck-rover and kicked 6 goals , whilst his replacement in the centre, Tony Hannan, picked up 34 kicks.

“I decided to step down from coaching in 1977 so I could concentrate on playing. But I dislocated an elbow, which cost me 6 weeks. Then a knee in the backside turned into a ‘hammy’ and my season was over.”

Neville was 33 and had played 246 games when he reluctantly retired. He was also coaching the Thirds at the time and feels that may have affected his fitness.

He was still in demand as a coach, though. Myrtleford persisted in their approaches. “I told them they needed a playing-coach, but they wouldn’t take no for an answer,” he says.

He coached the Saints for four years, then the Magpies came calling. “They had an ordinary list and I told them the same thing, that they needed an on-field leader. Again, they kept asking. I took their job on for two years.”

Neville’s standing as an O & M Legend and revered football figure probably casts his other sporting qualifications into the background.

Wangaratta has produced few better all-rounders. He excelled in squash and table-tennis, played inter-town basketball and has shaved his golf handicap down as low as 6 at different stages.

He also enjoyed a fruitful 30-year cricket career, which included eight WDCA premierships with United and a handful with Social Association clubs Greta, Postal img_2465and Tarrawingee.

As a well-organised, enterprising, right-hand batsman and brilliant fieldsman, his 11 WDCA centuries are testament to an outstanding performer. His tactical nous and leadership also saw him captain Wangaratta at both Melbourne and Bendigo Country Weeks.

Neville still fervently loves sport – and yarning about it. Half a century on, he can pluck out an obscure moment that swung a game of football…. and describe, in intricate detail, the playing-style of a veteran whose star has long-ago faded……….or even debate a controversial decision that halted a match-saving innings……

Sport has been his life……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE FLYING DOCTOR……….

“The Big Dance……”

It’s been at the back of your mind for months. What a thrill it would be if the Club could maintain its form and win its way into the Grand Final.

You start to make a few sacrifices – go easy on the grog, make a commitment to work a touch harder on the track, heed the coach’s advice to mentally prepare for each game.

The results are there to see. You experience a run of good form, start to snag a few goals, and the side gets it all together, finishing comfortably inside the Final Four, despite losing the Round 18 game by 50-odd points.

Facing the titleholders in the first semi-final, the experts predict that they’ll be too physically powerful, but the boys finish strongly and win in a canter.

The dose is repeated in the Prelim……… The flag is now within touching distance and, as you and your team- mates lock arms and belt out the team song, a nervous – and exciting – wait lays ahead……………

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In mid-September every year, Philip Doherty takes a moment to reflect on that day in 1971, when he helped to change the course of a game of football with some irresistible heroics – and in so doing, probably altered the direction of his life.

I track him down in Albany, the scenic Western Australian coastal city which overlooks the Indian Ocean. He’s been ensconced there for the past three years.

When I suggest that I’d like have a bit of a yarn with him, he reminds me that the last interview we conducted was very late one Saturday night, decades ago, when he was just tentatively emerging in the game.

The headline : “CARROT-HAIRED BEANSTALK IS A RIPPER”, accompanied the article, which detailed his rather tardy arrival on the football scene ; his improvement at Centrals, under a former Rovers player Jack Ramsay ; and his imageblossoming as a key forward with the Hawks.

They dubbed him the ‘Flying Doctor’. At 6’3″ and 13 stone, he was just 18 when he snagged six goals in a Reserves Grand Final. His 85 goals in the two’s had complemented the handy input of one of his partners in attack – a kid called Steve Norman.

Like ‘super-boot’ Steve, ‘Doc’s’ progress was steady.

But both were ready to explode in 1971, as they occupied the key forward posts in a developing Rovers side. Norman was the fast-leading, sure-kicking spearhead ; Doherty the high-leaping, skyscraper-grabbing, enigmatic centre half forward.

‘Doc’s’ a bit hazy about the lead-up to the Grand Final, so I quiz his old coach, Neville Hogan, who has an uncanny ability to recall events of the past at the drop of a hat. I ask him to outline the role that the lanky number 18 played in that finals series:

“One of the rules we implemented before the Prelim Final was that players had to wave their hands above their head when they were on the mark,” Neville says. ” I remember ‘Doc’ just standing there day-dreaming when his opponent, Benalla’s Brian Symes received a free kick early in the game. I screamed out: ‘Put your hands up’. ”

“Symes kicked the ball into him. He grabbed it, swivelled around and snapped a goal. He seemed out of sorts early, but didn’t look back from then on. Marked everything within reach and kicked four for the day – I’m pretty sure Steve kicked five and we went on to win easily.”

“There was a ‘blue’ in the first quarter of the Grand Final and a big fellah from Yarrawonga, Jimmy Bourke, whacked ‘Doc’. He was playing on a bit of a tough customer, Alan Lynch, who was as good a centre half back as there was going around.”

“He had kept him right under control. At three quarter-time we were in real trouble – 20 points down, and Yarra were playing like winners. They had kicked seven goals to one in the third quarter”

“In one of those moves born out of desperation, we shifted Brian O’Keefe to centre half forward and plonked ‘Doc’ in the pocket.”

” I can remember looking up at the scoreboard early in the last quarter. The clock had ticked over to the eight minute mark and ‘Doc’ was lining up for his third goal in five minutes, to give us the lead. He’d taken three spectacular marks and converted each time.”

The Rovers swept to victory, by the comfortable margin of 19 points at siren-time, thus triggering wild delight. It was the beginning of a decade of triumph for the Hawks, but it was to be Philip Doherty’s final game for the club.

North Melbourne secretary-cum recruiting guru, Ron Joseph had watched the finals and, in the midst of the premiership celebrations a few days later, invited him down to Arden Street for the 1972 pre-season.

“I was keen to have a crack at League footy, but sorry to leave my mates at the Rovers,” says ‘Doc’, who had played 43 senior games in the Brown and Gold.

So he left his job in the Spare Parts division of Alan Capp Motors, and walked into a similar role at Kevin Dennis Holden.

The VFL’s controversial zoning system had been in vogue for five years . The Murray Border district was North Melbourne’s allotted area, and other North-East boys, Sam Kekovich (Myrtleford),Vin Doolan, John Perry and David Pretty (Wodonga), Gary Cowton (Benalla), Phil Baker (Rutherglen) and Ross Beale (Yarrawonga) were also training.

‘Doc’s’ premiership team-mate, Mick Nolan and another young Hawk, John Byrne, were lured down to North a year later, so it had become a mini-O & M side.

It was to prove a sensational era of change for North Melbourne. Under the coaching of Brian Dixon, the ‘Roos were only able to snare one win in 1972, but ‘Doc’ would have been quietly pleased with his year.

He broke into the senior side for the last seven games, booted two ‘bags’ of four imagegoals and played a prominent part in the sole victory against South Melbourne.

The season had no sooner finished when it was announced that Ron Barassi was taking over as coach and three top-liners – Doug Wade, John Rantall and Barry Davis, had been lured to the club.

There was an instantaneous transformation, and the discipline instilled by the firebrand, Barassi, altered the culture of the club. They finished just outside the five in 1973, but for ‘Doc’ it proved a disappointment.

He managed just four more senior games, and when North began the wheeling and dealing to recruit W.A champion Barry Cable, his name was thrown up as possible ‘trade bait’ .

Eventually, he was included in a deal involving David Pretty, Michael Redenbach and Doug Farrant being cleared to WANFL club Perth, enabling the legendary Cable to cross the continent to line up with the ‘Roos.

The spacious grounds and near-perfect conditions suited ‘Doc’s’ style. He enjoyed a fine first season and helped Perth to a Grand Final berth against East Fremantle.

Fired by the superb play of first-year on-baller Robert Wiley and with David Pretty also in good touch, the inaccuracy of Doherty possibly contributed to East Freo being still in touch at three quarter-time.

He marked strongly up forward and finished with 5.6, but East ran away in the last term, to win by 22 points, in front of a crowd of 40,000.

After two more seasons with Perth, it was all over. He had moved on to selling cars, which began to consume more and more of his time. That, and an active social life, which he had always been keen to maintain, drew the curtain on the football career of Philip Doherty.

The car game has remained ‘Doc’s’ passion. He owned a business – City Toyota – at one stage and is firmly implanted in the West. He has returned home just four times in the last 42 years.

One of these included a nostalgic visit to the Findlay Oval a couple of years ago, when he enjoyed soaking up the memories of those days of yore………..

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MICKEY WHO ?…….

The sun shone brightly on that late September day in 1971, when a decade of dominance in Ovens and Murray football began.

If you were a long-term Wangaratta Rovers fan, you might remember the Hawks coming from the clouds to storm to victory in a last-quarter onslaught that turned the Grand Final on its ear.

If pressed, you may recall many of the blokes who wore the Brown and Gold. Some of them were to become legends of the Club ; a couple went on to play League football.

Mickey McDonald was proud to line up alongside them.

Mickey Who? you might say……………

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Michael Andrew McDonald maintains a low profile these days.

He worked at Bruck for many years…but retired about three years ago. Now he keeps himself busy pottering around his Irving Street backyard.

You used to be able to catch him regularly blowing the froth off a coldie at the Sydney pub, but the doctor warned him last November that it’d be a good idea to give the grog away. The alternative, he said, would be a one-way trip out to South Wangaratta.

If you’re in the foyer at the Rovers rooms you’ll see him in the 1971 team photo, wedged between two blokes with a similar sense of frivolity, Steve Norman and Ric Sullivan. Mick occasionally reminds himself of the emotion that overcame him when the final siren blew and the fans went berserk…………

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.Mick’s days at St.Patricks School were, in short, forgettable. There’s little doubt that his teachers, Miss Finck and Sister Annunciata shared a sigh of relief when he walked out of the gates for the last time.

The lunch-time breaks, when he could kick the footy around, were about the only time he got serious. He was one of eight kids and his dad had a bread-round. Mick occasionally hopped onto the horse and cart and helped him with his deliveries, but had no designs on following in his footsteps.

His mum, Marge, started following the Rovers when they joined the Ovens and Murray League. Her and a great mate, Iris Perso, were probably the most vocal -and fiercest – supporters the Hawks had in the fifties and sixties.

So she was a trifle disappointed when Mick, after showing plenty of promise with Centrals, headed out to Whorouly. I ask him how that came about.

“I was walking down Reid Street one day when Johnny Welch drove past and yelled out : “I want to see you.” He had just accepted the coaching job at Whorouly and asked if I’d like to join him. “I thought, Why not? ”

Even though Welchy had just the one year with the Maroons, Mick enjoyed himself so much that he stayed for three.

It was 1970 – and Neville Hogan had just succeeded Ian Brewer as coach, when Mick belatedly found his way to the City Oval – much to his mum’s delight.

Ask any contemporary for a description of the Hawks’ new recruit and the following adjectives would flow : ” tough…hard-at-it….a team-man….rugged….feisty……stricken with white-line-fever…..”

He cracked it for his first senior game twelve weeks into the season. Named on the bench against Rutherglen, he was given his chance in the third quarter. Twenty seconds after his arrival on the ground, he found himself in the umpire’s book.

“I just got a bit excited,” says Mick, who triggered an all-in brawl when he connected with Redleg ruckman Tim Reeves.

He was back at Rutherglen’s Barkly Park three days later, for the tribunal hearing, rather apprehensive about facing the ‘judiciary’.

What made him even more nervous was that the Yarrawonga player whose case preceded his, stormed out of the tribunal room in a fury, slammed the door, and simultaneously uttered “F…… me dead, four f……n weeks.”

He was dragged back in and given another two.

The three elderly gentlemen facing Mick across the table, were sympathetic towards him, gave him a good hearing – and suspended him for a fortnight. They probably wondered what the hell a stocky 5’7″ rover was doing, taking on a 6’4″ beanpole.

Mick proved a handy spare-parts man and made the most of his opportunities in the senior side in his first couple of years. But salt-of-the-earth blokes like him also enrich the club off the field, and he proved a popular figure.

The players were distracted by some vicious, swooping magpies during his first pre-season, and after being dive-bombed a couple of times himself, he decided to do something about it.

He eliminated the problem one Sunday morning, before training.

Mick hit form at the pointy end of the 1971 season. He had been outstanding in the two’s ( good enough to pick up the B &F after playing just 11 games) and knocked the door down for senior selection in the Finals.

With a couple of goals in the Hawks’ win over Myrtleford in the first semi, he played his part, and also savoured a convincing 33-point Prelim Final victory against Benalla.

Nevertheless, he held his breath when the Grand Final side, to clash with Yarrawonga, was named. But there he was – named as 20th man.

Mick didn’t recall much about the game itself. When I remind him that the Hawks were 20 points down at three quarter-time, then booted 7 goals to one in the final term, the memories start to flood back.

“I didn’t come on until deep in the last quarter. I got a run when Simon Goodale came off with cramp. With my first kick I hit Norman on the chest, lace-up,” he jokes.

When the siren blew, the Rovers had triumphed by 17 points.

“My Yarra opponent asked if I’d swap guernseys. I said, no. It’s been my ambition to get one of these bastards all my life and I’m not gonna let it out of my sight.”

And Mick meant that literally. He says he wore that treasured jumper for a week. There was no argument about who earned the 3 votes for the best performer during the premiership celebrations.

“I was working as a brickie’s labourer for Alfie Stevenson and he caught up with me on the following Friday. He asked : ‘Any chance you might get back to work some time soon ? ”

The Rovers Ball was held not long after. It used to co-incide with the Wangaratta Show, and Mick occasionally accepted the challenge to fight a member of the visiting boxing troupe.

This time the drums were loudly beating and his mates cheered, as he climbed onto the platform and the old promoter, Roy Bell, screamed: ” Your local football hero fights this session………”

To complete the festivities, Mick headed off on the Rovers trip-away – a cruise around the Pacific Islands. He nods in agreeance when I ask him to confirm the story that he saw the sun come up every morning.

“Old Jack Maroney was still President and was on that trip. I think it was his mission to keep an eye on me. Much to Jack’s dismay, I’d bought a grass skirt and a matching bra at one of the ports and wore it a couple of times. He probably feared I was on the verge of causing an international incident ! ”

Mick played two more seasons with the Rovers before heading out to Moyhu for a couple of years, and then concluding his career at North Wangaratta.

He still enjoys watching his footy, but thought his number might be up late last year. He got the ‘silver service’ treatment, when he was rushed to Melbourne, via air ambulance, for an emergency operation.

He survived, after ‘the worst fortnight of my life.’

Yes, the hell-raising days of Mickey ‘Mac’ are long behind him. But that Flag of ’71 still brings a lump to his throat……….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COACHING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF A LEGEND

Darryl Smith remembers the day he was set on the path to an illustrious football career.

He was 14 when his dad gave him two options: “You can either play footy or come cutting wood with me over the winter months”.

“It was a no-brainer, really”, says Smithy.

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He’s a native of Hastings, a Westernport town, described as the ‘gateway to the lower Mornington Peninsula’.  In football parlance, it lays claim to be the launching-pad from which the legendary Essendon goal-kicker John Coleman began his journey to fame and fortune.

The biggest influence on Darryl, though, was a tough on-baller, Hastings 300-gamer and coach, Richard Everest, who lived and breathed footy and inspired the club’s youngsters to ‘follow their dreams’.

After a season in the Under 17’s he joined Everest in the senior side – an awkward boy, still growing into his body, but progressing quickly.

St.Kilda invited him to do a pre-season. His dad would drive him to Frankston; he’d be picked up by Saints star Travis Payze and transported to Moorabbin for training, then back home.

10 minutes into his first practice match he was knocked out and carried into the dressing-rooms, where he lay motionless, like a body in the morgue, until just before half-time. His dad found him and asked the obvious question. “What happened ?”

“Can’t remember”, was Darryl’s response.

“Well, have a shower and get your clothes on. We’re off home”.

“Two weeks later, a St.Kilda official rang to see where I’d got to. The old man tore shreds off him. Told him they can’t rate the young bloke too highly if it took them a fortnight to check up on what had happened to me “.

So that was the end of his crack at the big time.

Darryl returned to Hastings, had a fine year and won the Best & Fairest. He dislocated his shoulder in the finals, which kept him out of work for an extended period.

A friend, Bob Mayne, who was in the CFA in Wangaratta, suggested he make a fresh start. He said: “Come up and have a look around. I’ll arrange for you to meet both clubs”.

It coincided with the Rovers Premiership Ball. “I had such a good time there, I just about made up my mind on the spot. The Rovers seemed like a real good fit for me”, he recalls.

In common with a lot of Hawk recruits, he was lined up with work at Thompson’s Brickworks.

“It was the worst – and hardest – job I’d ever had. I reckon I did well to last six weeks”, he said. (I tell him I know how he felt. I left after one day ! ).

” I moved on to Canny’s, shovelling briquettes ; drove a truck for Howlett’s Transports, then was offered a job selling cars with Alan Capp’s. Work was certainly providing me with plenty of variety “.

On the footy front, he settled in perfectly. ” The support the club received from the public was incredible and it was run more professionally than anything I’d experienced. ”

Darryl made an immediate impact and his adaptability proved a decided asset.  At 6’1″ and 13 stone, he could be moved to a number of positions to plug gaps, but was probably at home at centre half forward, or back.

He was a star in the 1972 premiership win, then won successive Best & Fairests in the following two years.

After four years with the Hawks he had collected three flags and was an established star. Further emphasis of his class came when he booted five goals at full forward, for the O &M against a top-notch VFA representative team.

In 1976, however, he did his knee and required a reconstruction. He was still hobbling around when the Magpies deeply wounded the Rovers in the Grand Final.

It was to be Neville Hogan’s final game and drew the curtain down on one of the club’s most celebrated playing and coaching careers.

The question was: Who would succeed the champ ? There was the usual conjecture, and rumours pointed to a Preston rover, Peter Weightman, being the warm fancy.

Rovers stalwart Les O’Keeffe pulled Smithy aside and urged him to have a crack at it, but he wasn’t so sure.

He had nagging doubts about how his knee would recover, whether the players would accept him after being one of them for five years, and if he could live up to the standards set by Hogan.

He eventually put up his hand and was given the job.

Miraculously, he lined up in the first practice match of 1977. There were no after-effects from his operation, but he was  hampered by hamstring problems throughout the season. This increased the pressure on him and he suspected there were the inevitable comparisons with Hogan.

Luckily, the side performed superbly and the coach began to feel more comfortable in the role. Because he was still a bit underdone, Darryl started on the interchange bench in the Grand Final against Wangaratta, which the Hawks dominated.

His coaching performance had passed the pinch-test. Everyone appreciated his honest approach and, thankfully, he returned to his best playing form the following season. He had now added a harder edge to his game and acted as a ‘protector’ for his younger players.

By the end of his third year at the helm the Hawks had won a hat-trick of flags and were looking to become just the third O & M club to win four in a row.

It wasn’t to be. They led North Albury by a goal at half-time in the Grand Final.  Glory beckoned, but North kicked 6 goals to nil in a blistering third quarter, to win comfortably.

Darryl sensed that his message was starting to fall on deaf ears in 1981 and, even though his charges rallied to reach the Preliminary Final, he knew that his time was up.

He handed over the coaching reigns to John Welch and played on for one more senior season. He was still playing okay,  but recognised that he shouldn’t stand in the way of the youngsters coming through.

He had notched up 195 games, booted 185 goals and his achievements ultimately earned him entry to the Wang. Rovers and Ovens and Murray Halls of Fame.

But he reckons that his next role – as coach of the Third Eighteen for three years – gave him as much satisfaction as any of his playing deeds.

Many of the Hawks’ next wave of champions – such as Matt Allen, Rob Walker, Mick Wilson and Robbie Hickmott – thrived on the Smith coaching doctrine which culminated in the Thirds’ flag of 1985.

Darryl moved to the Bellarine area in the late eighties and continued his involvement in footy, with coaching appointments at St.Leonard’s (’89-’90) and Portarlington (’91-’92). But their lack of professionalism frustrated him. ” They just weren’t fair dinkum and this irked me”, he says.

He is moving back here in September and is excited about renewing his links with the Club and his old team-mates, many of whom have become lifelong friends.FullSizeRender

It’s the beginning of another chapter in the life of Darryl Smith..

 

 

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THE COP WHO STAYED

Here he comes, busily hobbling along, with that recognisable gait. Reminds you of an old rodeo rider. His knees are stuffed…..one of the legacies of a legendary footy career.

You notice that everybody says g’day to him. He has a lived-in face and ready smile. In days gone by he would launch into that wholehearted, throaty laugh and unveil a couple of missing teeth. He would once only insert the ‘falsies’ on special occasions, but nowadays they’re a permanent fixture.

He’s probably the biggest personality in the Club, is Andrew Scott. The young players know him because he’s always around the place doing something. Those of an older generation revere him for the way he could turn a game of football on its head and for the effort that he’s continued to put in since hanging up his boots 30-odd years ago.

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Scotty is a Sorrento boy, born and bred. He was somewhat of a childhood prodigy at the Mornington Peninsula club and in 1969 played a key role in their senior premiership team.

After winning the ‘Sharks’ Best & Fairest in 1971 he was invited to Hawthorn and became only the second Sorrento player to break into VFL senior ranks when he made his debut against St.Kilda in Round 11, 1972.

It was the era of zoning in the VFL and Hawthorn were lucky enough to have the plum Mornington area, from which they plucked stars of the calibre of Leigh and Kelvin Matthews, Michael Moncrieff, Peter Knights, Kelvin Moore and Alan Martello.

Hawthorn were the reigning premiers and were continuing to mould a line-up which would remain at, or near, the top throughout the seventies. Scotty felt privileged to be among such hallowed company and grateful for the six senior games he played in 1972 and ’73.

“I’d have liked to stay longer, but I wasn’t good enough”, he replies when people ask him about his brief sojourn at Glenferrie Oval.

He returned to Sorrento for a season, then, for a bit of a change in lifestyle, decided to head to the bush in his employment as a policeman.

It would, he thought, be a good idea to get away for a couple of years to broaden his horizons.

He put in for a transfer to Wodonga, but was beaten for the position. Wangaratta was his second choice and, soon after finding out he was successful he was bombarded by the Magpies and Rovers, both desperate to convince him to sign.

The Hawks won out and have always regarded the Scott signing as one of their greatest recruiting coups.

Within 12 months he had a Morris Medal draped around his neck and a premiership to his name. And he had become an immense favourite with Rovers fans, who loved this bloke with the knockabout nature.

He was a natural ruck-rover, but had been at the club only a month, when Rovers coach Neville Hogan swung him to centre half forward, as cover for the injured Darrell Smith. There he stayed for a couple of years.

Old-timers likened him to the great Royce Hart, in the way he would float across the pack to take courageous, and spectacular, marks. He played a big man’s game in the most difficult of all positions on the ground, despite being a slender 6’1″.

The Rovers played in Grand Finals in each of his first six years at the Club, winning four of them.  The major hiccup came in 1976, when Wangaratta ran over the Hawks, an occasion which some of his Magpie matesstill hark back to.

“It was with particular satisfaction that we did a job on them the following season”, he recalled in a nostalgic flashback to the days of yore .

“But the one that really stood out for all of us was knocking off Benalla, the virtually unbackable favourites, in 1978. They’d only lost once all year, to us, early in the season. It was all over by half-time. We really came out revved up.”

Benalla’s coach on that fateful day was Billy Sammon, a fellow O &M Hall of Famer, who has always waxed lyrical about Scotty, the footballer.

Sammon coached the O &M to a 56-point victory against the VFA in 1975, as Scotty turned in a terrific display at centre half forward. From then on he was an automatic choice in inter-league sides and a particular favourite of Billy.

Neville Hogan was concerned that his star was becoming worn down by continually giving away weight and height to opponents in the key position. He swung him onto the ball, with an occasional foray up forward.

Scotty didn’t miss a beat. He won the Rovers B & F in 1977 and ’80, finished runner-up in the Morris Medal in 1978 and was third on two other occasions.

And there were the 248 goals that he kicked in his 181 games with the Hawks, including a ‘day-out’ when he and Neville Pollard each booted 10 against Lavington.

Additionally, what value do you place on a fellow who is the life of the show and vital to the cameraderie of the playing group. Priceless, I’d say.

Of the memories that flood back, I recall the famous No.6, delivering a right jab, which travelled just inches, yet changed the complexion of a semi -final against North Albury in 1982.

The victim was champion Hopper John Smith, who had been cutting the Rovers to pieces. The two old warriors met in mid-field, both with similar intentions. Scotty got in first….Smith’s influence waned….the Hawks ran out winners by 16 points.

He retired in 1985, but continued his unstinting involvement.   The myriad of official roles he has been saddled with include ……Assistant-Coach, Chairman of Selectors, Board Member, Past Players President……

He was enlisted by coach Laurie Burt to test the suspect Mark Frawley shoulder in the lead-up to the 1988 Grand Final. As the old bull, who hadn’t seen any on-field action for three years, squared-up against the stripling in front of the Hogan Stand after training, a few onlookers watched the action.

He showed his famed aggressive intent in roaring in to bump Frawley a few times but came off second-best. The harder he tried the further he bounced off and the more distressed he was becoming. Finally, he nodded to Burt: “I think he’s right “.

Scotty is most comfortable soldiering away behind the scenes. His imprint is on all of the building projects that have been undertaken at the Findlay Oval over the last couple of decades. But two of which he’s been particularly proud have been the construction of the mezzanine floor in the foyer and the recent completion of the luxurious Balcony, the O & M’s best viewing spot.

He made a huge decision in the nineties, to ditch the police uniform for ‘tradie’s’ overalls, as Wangaratta’s oldest plumbing apprentice. He then went on to run his own business and become a TAFE plumbing teacher. Just another couple of strings to the bow of the charismatic all-rounder.

There is no more passionate, nor a greater defender of the Hawks than Andrew Scott.

He’s done a fair job for a blow-in !

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Scotty (right), with fellow Hawk Morris Medallists, Bob Rose, mNeville Hogan & Robbie  Walker.
Scotty (right), with fellow Hawk Morris Medallists, Bob Rose, mNeville Hogan & Robbie Walker.