PAUL GRENTELL ON VAL POPE
I first came across Val Pope in 2004 when I was playing coach of the Western Magpies’s side in the QAFL. Val had been put forward along with Tim Plummer to play some senior games upon recommendations from the Kenmore Bears.
Val was a skinny shy looking kid that was renowned for his football smarts and evasive skills who could kick goals. Both players played for us against Labrador at home, with Labrador at the time struggling and we beat them quite well with Tim kicking multiple goals and Val playing OK through the midfield and forward. I had seen glimpses of Val’s ability but wasn’t totally convinced and said to both players to come and play against Southport the following week where I knew they would be tested. My thoughts of Val’s abilities after that day were confirmed as this kid was going to be a star! Val dominated the opposition as a 16 year old and a few of us oldies that were finishing off our careers helping develop the kids in the 2’s were relishing having him in our team for the day. The opposition took notice of him as well and started to target him quite fiercely (something that continues to this day). Tony “Chuck” Zillman took it upon himself to be Val’s protector for the game and I believe this is when Val understood that we are a family at The Magpies and once you put on the jumper we will look out for you whether you have played 200 games or just 2 games. I strongly believe that the protection and support that Tony displayed along with his fellow team mates that day went a long way towards Val choosing the Western Magpies as his senior club.
After a brief stint with Mt Gravatt forced by AFLQ, Val returned to the Magpies to play in the all-conquering Alan Hagley (Hags) coached Under 18s Division 1 Premiership team that defeated Southport soundly at the Gabba in the 2005 Grand Final. A development pathway for Val was produced by Hags in consultation with myself and Val where he would play in the Under 18s that year under the guidance of Gary Shaw and Hags then move into senior footy. The plan worked and the ‘finished product’ that Hags and Shawry produced was ready to go...
Val’s influence at senior level was instant! Kicking multiple goals in his first senior game against the previous year’s Premiers, Burleigh, and went on that year to win the AFLQ Competition Player of the Year as a 19 year old. He has won many games off his own boot making seasoned defenders look silly whilst having a team first attitude. Val has the ability to change a game in minutes and was my “go to” player through the midfield when we were struggling to win the ball. He is an entertainer and people to this day go to the local footy just to watch him play. He was instrumental in all 3 of the Premierships he has been a part of and has been pivotal to the success at the club. He has been and continues to be the best forward of the modern era, not only at the club but in the competition and would be amongst, in my opinion, one of the best players to play in the western suburbs. A full forward line containing Giffard, St John and Pope would be a true spectacle to see…. Thanks for the entertainment Val, it was a privilege to coach you and thanks for playing for the Maggies!