MAGPIE POPE BRINGS UP 200 OF THE BEST
Longtime Magpie star, Val Pope will play his 200th Senior match when the Western Magpies play Mt Gravatt at Chelmer on Saturday.
The silky skills of Pope have long thrilled the Western Magpies crowd for 11 seasons since he made his Senior debut in 2006. Pope is brilliant in the air with sure hands ensuring he is a true ‘one grab mark’ and then at ground level his clean hands are as good as any player in the QAFL.
Pope began his career with the Pies in 2004 when he played a couple of Reserves matches under coach Paul Grentell.
He had moved to Brisbane as an 11 year old from Melbourne where, encouraged by his parents, he had played junior football for Bentleigh. He joined the local Kenmore side and played with them to Under 16 level. He was in the Queensland state squad and it was decreed by AFLQ that squad members had to play at State League level so played several matches at Mt Gravatt that year.
After his taste of Reserves football with the Pies, he moved permanently across to the Western Magpies with good mates Ed McDonnell and Angus Graham where he was a member of the 2005 Under 18 Division 1 Premiership under Alan Hagley and Gary Shaw. Teammates in that side included Sean McEvoy, Matt Davis, Mick Hamill, Rohan Bail and Damien Bonney.
He progressed straight into the Seniors in 2006 and was a member of the Pies premiership team that defeated Noosa under Paul Grentell. He was runner up to David Hamill in the Bill Peirce Medal count in his first season in Senior football and won the QAFL's Medal for the League's Best Player.
He has never been dropped from the Senior side since debut and did not miss a game from 2006 to 2009, however in recent years he has missed a few games with soft tissue injury or work related travel.
To underline his ability and value to the Pies, he won his first Bill Peirce Medal in a Premiership year in 2008 and then again in 2015 when the Pies finished second on the QAFL ladder. This makes him the best of a very good team. He was also named in the QAFL Team of the Year in 2015.
Premiership teammate MattThompson regards Pope as one of the best and toughest players he has played with and he is one of the top two or three players he played with at the Pies. That list includes class players such as Jim Rozynski, Ed McDonnell, Chris Mihalopoulos, Luke Scott, Tim McEvoy and Ben Heffernan-Roper to name a few.
He is always targeted by opposition players despite playing in forward lines which included Anthony Corrie, Alex Dickfos, David Hammill and Gerard Moore and more often than not takes the attention of the opposition best defender. He takes a lot of whacks off the ball and he has the ability to absorb a lot of punishment but just keeps on going. However some opposition coaches were either ignorant or unprepared because one day an opposition coach, when asked whether he would put a tag on him was dismissive, saying he did not rate him….six goals later and an upset Magpies victory had him rueing his decision and rapidly revising his opinion.
Despite the man handling and close checking over the years he has never been reported. So you can add fairness to the equation to go with natural ability, toughness and durability. His attack on the football is fearless and he has always played taller than he looked. His skills at ground level have been exceptional. Thompson says he was much better than most people credited him with and he was the second best player in the Pies premiership win over Palm Beach-Currumbin in 2012.
In-house, Pope is rated as one of the best ever players to don the black and white yet some opposition players and coaches often did not know much about him. This is likely due to the fact that off the field he is unassuming and talking to him you would never know his record or how good he is—the persona of the quiet unassuming accountant that he is–think Clark Kent—but look out when he crosses the white line!!
Long time Magpies supporter Robert Schaffert reckons Valentine "The Pontiff" Pope gave him the most enjoyment of any player at the Pies and he marvelled at his ability to outmark taller opponents and his clean ball handling skills, especially at pace in heavy traffic. Schaff, ever the entertainer, would get very excited if Pope gained possession inside the 50 metre arc.
Club doyen and historian Kevin Kluver has Pope at the very top of the best ever players to don either the Sherwood or Western Magpies guernsey and says he could be counted on to kick the clutch goals and observes that if Pope was 30 metres out he would kick it 35 metres, 40 metres out he would kick it 45 metres!
There is no doubt he would be one of the first named in a Best Ever Western Magpies team and if a Best Ever combined Sherwood/Western Magpies team was named he would be in that as well. Three Senior Premierships ( 2006, 2008 and 2012), two Bill Peirce Medals (2008 and 2015) , QAFL Team of the Year and also a Bill Ryan Medal in his first year of Senior Footy attest to his ability and the Western Magpies and wider QAFL community join in congratulating and celebrating Val’s 200th Senior match on Saturday.