THE BIRTH OF THE WESTERN MAGPIES
Paul Grentell reflects on a chance meeting and 2 games...
"I was lucky enough to run into Simon (Tutts) Maplebeck at Brisbane’s Adrenalin Bar one night in 1998 whilst on holidays from Victoria when he explained to me the concept of The Western Magpies and asked if I would be interested in coming back to play. Tutts explained to me that the idea had been floated of The Sherwood Football Club resurrecting a senior team to cater for senior football in the western suburbs. As he explained to me that himself Matt Vowles, Des Lashman, Steve Mitchell and Laurie Nipperess were going to be the key drivers of the team - memories of watching the Sherwood and Western Districts Football Clubs as a wide eyed junior came flooding back. The images of the Gersakowski brothers, Allan Giffard, Quentin Johnson, Bill Peirce ,Lashman’s and Shaw’s all boyhood heroes of mine were firmly ingrained in my mind and the opportunity to follow in their footsteps was something that I yearned to do since the extinction of West Brisbane after the 96 Flag.
Even though I was contracted to a football club in country Victoria and in my third year of working at Mt Hotham the prospect to play in the first two games was appealing and something to be cherished. During that preseason there was an instant bond forming with old friends and teammates quitting their current clubs and committing to the cause and it was quickly evident that we were embarking on an exciting venture. Des Lashman with Steve Mitchell heading up the Ressies was appointed coach and Brad Rantall Captain his deputies were to be familiar names Michael “Mousey” Blackmore, Scott “Oogy” Headley and Michael “Nickers” Nixon as well as West Brisbane players Darren “Macca” McCartey, Grant ‘Dalo” Dalman, Ben Brotherton and Luke Richardson. Added to the mix of senior boys were up and coming juniors such as Adam Gillespie, Ryan Godden, Glenn Shredder and Sean Toohey. Training was tough and standards were quickly set but the thing that has stuck with me was the instant camaraderie and every Thursday night in the preseason the boys would be straight into the social club for a catch up and a ribbing, on Friday nights (in preseason) we would always meet at the club before venturing to the RE, all groups were involved from the seasoned campaigner to the rookies.
As the first game approached I was told that we were a little light on for height and I was the best option to play in the ruck, a position pretty foreign to me but if that’s how I was going to contribute so be it. Our first game against Robina at home had arrived and seeing I was living in Graceville just around the corner I decided to walk down to the ground it was exciting to put on The Western Magpies club shirt and receive a few beeps of well wishes on my journey to the club. I will never forget putting on my jumper albeit number 53 and being in the rooms with my new teammates all of whom were bursting at the seams in anticipation of representing the club and the area. As we walked through the tunnel heading out to the ground the feeling was quite surreal looking around and seeing a combination of old and new with the common goal and this along with the cheers from the local crowd were exhilarating. It was a sluggish affair and even though we were pipped at the post the players were bitterly disappointed but knew better days were to follow.
Our next game was played at Western Districts Oval a ground that a few of us had played senior footy on whilst representing West Brisbane and had fond memories of playing at the venue. But the opening term was to be a nightmare with Burleigh Bombers jumping out of the blocks and having a healthy lead at halftime. During the week I had informed the club that I needed to get back to Victoria after the game and fulfil my obligations with my employer and current club. So it dawned on me that the opportunity to sing the song was slipping from me and my teammates and although there was steely reserve in the rooms to comeback from 10 goals down would be extremely difficult to say the least. Our captain Brad Rantall knew that I was heading back on the Monday and made an amazing offer to lead the boys out after halftime which was marvellous. Lasho gave a stirring, passionate address and told us to play with flare and freedom and to go for it and we did. Our younger group were playing on at every chance and taking the game on. Our backline with Oogy, Nickers and Jason Pinnington was rock solid at the same time as Adam Gillespie and Brad Rantall gave amazing drive off the backline whilst Richo was marking everything up forward and slotting them from everywhere. In the midfield the opposition ruckman was smashing me at the taps and at one bounce all our mids were lined up behind so I did ask our blokes to put one in front to humour me or in case of a bad bounce or even better if I win one which they laughed at, but it was our engine room of Macca, Mouse and Dalo who were smashing them in the middle (literally). Slowly but surely we pegged them back and every one of our players were playing out of their skins wand the chance to sing that song was now within striking distance. Richo just kept kicking goals and eventually we he hit the front at the right time and victory was ours.
The feeling in the rooms was amazing and all our supporters, past players, family and friends were in there to belt out the song Lasho was crying, Barts and Kev were pumped and my brother Andrew and Shaff were crowing and as one big giant family we belted out the song loud enough for the entire neighbourhood to hear. But as I looked around the room at all the jubilant faces and hearing the sounds of VB”s cracking the blokes that were most content with the victory were Vowlesy and Tutts who had the vision to get The Western Magpies up and running, I was hooked and once I was able to, I told them I would be back for more!!"
As many would know, Paul later returned to the club and had a distinguished coaching career, coaching 2 Senior Premierships in 2006 and 2008