CLUB NEWS Hairdo's Falcons Tribute

Hairdo's Falcons Tribute

1995 got better. Cam Robbins was our Senior Coach and Ron Walker (Rocket) our Reserves Coach. Cam guided us to a Wooden Spoon which wasn’t to glamorous as we had come away with a home preliminary final defeat against Rovers the previous year. To Cam’s credit he insisted we learned skills on both sides of our body so here I was at 22 learning to use my left foot. Over time this has helped me greatly and I cannot emphasise enough the need for every player to ‘grow’ a left foot and ‘left’ handball. ‘95 finished on a sour note for me. I had played every Reserves game through the year plus finals but was omitted from the big stage – the Grand Final. I imagine in the room right now there are one or two of you who are in this space right now. Well lads, there’s only two ways to go. You can spend the rest of your life tripping over your lip wondering what could have been and blaming every bugger in the Club or you can use this as your motivation to improve. As they say it’s not how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get back up that count. We went on to win the Reserves Premiership convincingly against the Kats (spit!).

Through my 15 year association with the Club I’ve made many great mates and learnt a lot from my coaches and the champions I played with. I can’t possibly thank them all but I will touch on a few;

  • Shane Davy (Pud) and Timmy Cooke taught me the value of the red and blue jumper and to play with passion.
  • Mitch Thomas, Mick Browne and Jason Oliver (Ollie) taught me the value of hard work and determination.
  • Steve Matkovich (Maka) taught me to not take myself too seriously.
  • Larry Kickett taught me the value of networking within the football community.
  • Kevin Jones and Steve Pattrick taught me to back myself.
  • Ash Milligan taught me that there are some pretty handy footballers with big hearts in country Victoria.
  • Jason Ryan, Milo Cassidy, Jamie McDonald, Steve Kimberly, Sarge, Jason Bindon, Ben Camisa, the Catchy Brothers and a whole bunch of others taught me to be careful who stands next to you in the shower and always have some panadol handy!

In amongst you tonight are some of our current champions who taught me the value of having a strong juniors club so people like me can sit back from afar and relish the fact that the Falcons may not have a club-room but it has a healthy future with a winning culture. I can recall watching a baby Mickey and Danny F-Z with the Stanley babies running around in nappy’s in the U16’s grand finals. We dominated the U16’s for 3 or 4 years and it is that dominance which sees us where we are today. Mitch & Donna Thomas, Eddie & Peta Mott, Marg Stanley and others from the Junior Committee take a bow.   

In 1996 I made my league debut with Fabian Dawson as Senior Coach and played my last league game in 2001 under Derrick Kickett. There were many times through this period when several of us would have to play two games and sometimes we didn’t have a bench. I recall one particular final series in ’97 when I played two semi finals in one day at South Hedland oval. We lost both, by a lot. In fact throughout the late 90’s we copped plenty of floggings. Most of you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be flogged for a season but I can tell you it builds character and truly tests the fabric of your club. If you persevere as we did then nights like tonight are possible.

It was also through 1995 to 2000 that I joined the committee which peaked with two years as Vice President to Mal George. Mal brought a business like professionalism to the Presidential role which has remained a key requirement for every Falcons President since.

In 2003 I played my 100th game against Kats at Millers Well. Faye and a few of the committee girls worked hard on a great banner for me. Ollie had stepped aside so I could play. Pud hadn’t realised it was my 100th and thought he’d rest me. We lost and let Pud down in a derby. I asked the Club if I could keep the match ball from our next home game and in true spirit they obliged. That ball sits on my bar autographed by the entire squad. It looks great. If only we hadn’t lost that game to Sharks by a point.     

For several seasons I was fortunate enough to Captain the Reserves side. We had mixed success with two Grand Final losses in the late 90’s early 2000’s. Whenever you lose a GF it always feels like a lost opportunity and takes a bit to get over. Ollie and Maka, our dedicated coaches deserved better.

In 2004 we managed to steal a flag from Rovers at South Hedland oval. No one gave us a chance. Quite a few of our league side and supporters didn’t even travel up to watch which goes to show how they rated us. I learnt a lesson that day about the value of kicking straight. We kicked 8.4 – 52pts whilst Rovers squandered their opportunities kicking 6.11 – 47pts.

I bet that sounds familiar to a few of you here tonight?

The boyhood dream came to life for me in this game. With less than a minute to go and having trailed Rovers all game I ran down (no small feat for a bloke that runs like treacle) and tackled Rovers biggest bloke, the Addman,  inside our forward line about 35m out on a 45 degree angle. We were 1 point down. The crowd was 1500 strong and yelling for all their worth but somehow, over it all, I could hear Mitch Thomas croaking away. Ollie was our playing coach back then. He walked over with some words of advice, “You’ve just got to kick it mate” he said. Well no shit Sherlock, I thought, thanks for the update and pearl of wisdom. No pressure.

In fairytale fashion the ball sailed straight and true. The siren sounded and my signed jumper and medallion on the wall shows us as the winners. I have never felt as relieved and elated as I did when that siren sounded. Only those that have been denied will know what I am talking about. The disappointment I felt from my omission in 1995 was washed away and it was as if the true order had been restored. My wife Faye and 2yr old daughter Caitlin came running out to me as did Karen Davy. I am not ashamed to say that I cried. We hugged and all cried together such was the elation. Even Ollie had a tear. It’s one of my greatest memories to see the smile on that guys face. It would have been an absolute travesty for that man to go his whole career and never tasted a Premiership. He’s played over 200 games, won countless F&B awards for the Falcons and was League captain for 4 years. He needed a medallion. As Co-captains Jake Stanley and I took great pride in chaperoning the flag and cup back to the change room veranda. I didn’t make it home for 3 days. 

The next point I want to make is something that cannot be understated. We had a drought of 9 years between Reserves flags 1995 – 2004 and 17 years between Leagues flags 1989 – 2006. The Reserves have since won 6 flags in the past 7 years. The League 2 flags in the last 4 years and a number of runner-ups since 2003. There are several of you out there tonight that have as many as 4, 5 or possibly 6 Premierships to your credit. Rest assured this is not normal. What you have experienced is special and extremely unique. Do not take next year for granted. Do not rest on your laurels. Remember to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.

In 2007 I had a desperate urge to coach. Faye wasn’t so keen for me to do so with my work commitments. I softened the idea by getting Ollie to come onboard as co-coach as he was going to play anyhow. We weren’t sure how the Committee would see the idea of co-coaches. Thankfully they liked the idea. Clayton McIntosh broke the news to us and I was chuffed. Gary (Legs) Milroy who had coached Sharks in 2003 and 2004 and then had coached Falcons to a flag in 2006 was re-appointed Senior Coach. As Reserves coach I was keen to introduce team discipline and individual accountability to the player group. We had missed the Reserves Grand Final in 2006 and we wanted to change that. I kept an attendance register – who trained, who didn’t and who had rung ahead with an apology. These lists were hung on the wall for all to see. On game day I kept stats on centre breaks, inside 50’s and goals from turnovers. We ran a rotation system off the bench which took some players a while to get used to. I think this helped us greatly on Grand Final day which was a steaming 36 degree C in Port Hedland. Ollie and I also ranked each player’s game every week and used this as a key tool in our selection process.

All of our good ideas were quickly challenged as we lost the first two games of the season. Thankfully we stuck to our plan and went the rest of the season undefeated. In the weeks leading into the finals I noted that the boys were dropping off the pace on the track and there was some complacency starting to creep in. I think a few of them got a shock when we introduced suicides for laziness. Tezza Milligan nearly spilled his beer when he looked up from the BBQ. He told me after that he hadn’t seen suicides at footy training for 10 years. Rather than taper off as most guys thought we should we raised the intensity on the track. We hadn’t been challenged fiercely on the field so we had to simulate it on the track. 

The wonderful team photo on my wall by Brial’s dad shows we won the Premiership by 8 pts. What it doesn’t show is that we were 38 pts down late in the 2nd quarter. I’m still not sure what Josh Stanley (Pongo) thought when he saw me in deep contemplation staring into the royal doultan in the back of the change rooms. We swung a few moves. Brials to CHF and Bozza to CHB worked well as did an increase in rotations through the midfield in a hope to run Rovers ragged. The nail in the coffin for Rovers was when Kevin Jones who had faithfully run water for us that season suggested I move Ray Sullivan (Ray-Ray) into the midfield in the last quarter. Ray-Ray’s fresh legs and dogged determination to win a contested ball got us several much need inside 50’s and with Pongo’s conversion the game turned our way.

When the siren rang that day after a 35 minute last quarter it was a much different feel to 2004. This time it was more relief than elation. We had gone into the game as clear favourites and were expected to win. Now the only thing you can guarantee about the favourite is that he pays the worst odds. We had a squad of 40+ come through the Reserves side that year. Unfortunately the League side lost to Rovers and we returned home with mixed emotions.  As per 2004, I didn’t make it home for 3 days. 

All in all I consider myself to have had a blessed existence with the Karratha Falcons Football Club. My time with you has been a true fairytale. From having limited football ability to league player, to reserves captain, to reserves premiership co-captain to reserves premiership coach. I played and coached my last game in mid 2008 and was delighted to handover the coaching reins to John Sullivan a long time member and past player. Whilst nothing beats playing the game at the peak of your powers coaching comes a close second. I hope that the young blokes we coached not only became better players with a deeper appreciation for the game but became better people.              

Making all this possible for me has been the wonderful support and dedication I have received from my wife Faye. Most you know her as Mrs Hairdo. I have been very fortunate to have met and married a lady who has supported me through this journey. Having broken 7 bones including my jaw, an arm and a leg on the football field there have been times when I tested this support to the limit. The club too has benefitted from Faye’s support. She was on the Committee for 5 plus years as Treasurer, Secretary, jumper washer, time keeper, beer van stocker and chief banner maker. My advice to the ladies is don’t be a football widow for 8 months of the year. Get in there, stand by your man and become a part of the Club. I also must thank my littlest fan, my daughter Caitlin (or Wiggy as she became known).

So it is with great pride that I accept this recognition tonight. Unfortunately life membership has eluded me, I guess this will be the Holy Grail I never attained. To all of you who have raised a sweat as a committee member, player or supporter of the Falcons there is an open invitation to join me at our beer fridge anytime.

Kind regards

Brett McCarthy – Hairdo #18.
 

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