This year I coached the wonderful Melbourne Magpies who played in the Reclink (Choir of Hard Knocks people), football league for disadvantaged footballers.
We only lost the B Grade Grand Final by a couple kicks in the last minutes against Sacred Heart Mission who had beaten us earlier in the year by 20 goals.
Here's my coach's report which appeared in this year's Grand Final footy record.
From a small group of strangers out for a kick on a Wednesday, we're now a team of disciplined, tightly loyal mates ready to do anything for each other on the footy field. We knew we had something when from the first match we came within a kick of beating one of the skillful teams in the completion. From that point we knew we were onto something special.I must again thank my great mate, Nicola for urging me to have a shot at this incredible gig.
From Ash running down the wing, kicking it long to a Jordan lead, to Boonie at the bottom of every pack, Melbourne's Magpies have everything you'd want to watch in a footy team.
Every team member has made incredible progress this year: Hukka's courage under the pump; Jade's freakish tenacity against blokes three times his size and age; Bugsy's persistence even when we're down many goals; Random's cocky flair; Josh yelling "Ronaldino!" whenever he kicks it off the ground; Shrek and Ray always willing to take the grab when under extreme pressure; the Liddy brothers kicking dozens of goals between them; Paul Perry's freakish ability to pick himself up after a huge bump; old stager, Bill showing the kids what guts on the footy field's all about and the other old bloke, Paul showing the way with his reliable kicking; Brad, with his uncanny game sense to find himself free up forward; Dale, an old fashioned, quiet but tough backman; JK the gentle giant in ruck; Jerny's dangerously hard training ethic; Harley, a footballing freak for someone so new to the game
Not only have our players individually faced huge obstacles to get on the ground each week, so too has our footy club in getting everything together to field a competitive and much importantly a fun gameday for all – a testament to the fine values of the Reclink Football League.
None of this would have been possible without Fran, Ramez, Nicola and staff at Living Room, Hutchy and John (all handy on the footy field), at Brunswick Youth Services, Tim at St Marks Community Centre, St Marys House of Welcome, The Collingwood Football Club and Brian at the VAFA Umpiring Association and much support from many other friends, families and volunteers who've helped along the way.