The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on December 19, 1999 · Page 32
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The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia · Page 32

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Location:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 19, 1999
Page:
Page 32
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12 THE SUNDAY AGE 19 DECEMBER 1999 ALL-ROUND AUSTRALIANS Tom Wills A fascinating character, Wills is credited with drawing up the first set of rules for our indigenous code of football. Having grown up in western Victoria playing with the children of the local Aboriginal clan, he sailed to England at 15 to attend Rugby school, where he captained the first XI. One of Australia's finest cricketers of die 19th century, he became secretary of the MCC at a young age and coached a touring Aboriginal team to England. A fierce competitor, he was also a fierce drinker who died young. Reg "Snowy" Baker They don't come any better. "Snowy" excelled at 19 different sports, playing rugby Tests against England in 1904, rowing in championship eights, playing in champion water polo teams, swimming undefeated in six countries, forming part of the Australian polo team that did not lose from 1903-06, holding the national amateur middleweight title for two years, and losing a gold medal bout in controversial circumstances at the London Olympics in 1908. Was also a star at tent-pegging. Victor Richardson Played 19 Tests in the baggy green, making his debut against England in die timeless Test of 1924. Also captained South Australia in Australian Rules state matches six times, and his CV included rave reviews as a baseballer, golfer and player of tennis, billiards and lacrosse, winning the World Trophy (formerly the Helms Award). His sporting genes were passed on to his grandsons, the Chappell brothers. Has a lovely couple of gates named after him at the Adelaide Oval. Eddie Chariton The biggest name in Australian snooker, "Steady Eddie" was also a New South Wales first-grade soccer player, an Australian champion surf boat crew member, a distance runner who carried the Olppic torch for a leg in 1956, and a highly competitive cricketer, boxer and rugby league player. Won a world matchplay snooker title, but could never quite seal the world championship, twice losing the final to six-times champion Ray Reardon. Source: AmpoTs Sporting Reconk. ft mm? - f ..LI " With God-given talents to burn, Melbourne's diverse draftee is determined to become a devil of a Demon, writes Peter Hanlon. FOR Brad Green's first appearance on Mastermind (he's so good at everything else, it's only a matter of time), his speciality subject will be 'Preparing for a life of sporting excellence'. He'll probably win, too. Green is 18 and hails from George Town, a Tasmanian town of 5000 nestled at the mouth of the Tamar River, 40 kilometres north of Launceston. His home sells itself as "Australia's oldest town, where you can experience the best living example of European settlement". To paraphrase Sinatra, if you can make it from there, you can make it from anywhere. It helps, of course, when you've got a God-given talent. Or four. Green's first gift materialised at "five or six", when he started playing soccer. "Dad always played football, but I wanted to get both sides of my body going." The rest of us were struggling with both arms of our Action Man. He soon discovered he could play cricket pretty well, too. At 15 he opened the batting and captained the Australian team that contested the Youth World Cup in England. A year later he was back, having caught the eye of Manchester United's far-flung scouts while playing for Tasmania in the under 16 national championships. "I went over there in January (1998) and spent three months training with the youth and reserves teams," Green says. "In the end they said, 'What's the point spending all this money on you, when we could get the same type of player here?' They sent me down to Walsall in division two, and I trained there for a month. They offered me a contract to stay, but I wanted to come home and finish my schooling." Green is too charitable to say that studying seemed like more fun than playing competitive sport in England. Upon returning to Launceston Grammar, he discovered he was a dab hand at something else - footy. Last month, aged 18, the most defining step yet in Green's sporting smorgasbord of a fife was taken when Melbourne made him its first selection in the November draft. But wait, as the info-mercial voice says, "there's more!". Somewhere along the tree-lined highway of his youth, Green was offered a spot on the state basketball team. "But I had too many things on," he says. It's said with the casual air of someone who's just carried five drinks back from the bar, who could have managed a sixth, but didn't want to show off. Of golf, he grudgingly offers: "I have a little hit." You just know he's got a single-figure handicap. He laughs at the suggestion he'll bob up in Sydney at next year's Games, winning gold in the exhibition sport of boot-lacing or dishwashing. If you're offered better than evens, it's not a bad bet. Plainly, Green is not your typical case. Like all those lucky so-and-sos who play a cover drive like they're gendy stroking a cat, he's never felt what it's like to yearn for a round of less than 90. At a time when we're winning everything, Green is something of an Australian sporting prototype. His various excursions to the mother country also leave him well placed to comment on why the grass is so much It's easy being Green: Brad Green, at training, and with the Tassie Mariners (below). greener on our side of the fence, but no amount of prompting can get him to dig the boots in. "They're not soft," he says. And, in wonderful teen-speak: "You've only got to go to a soccer game and see how many nutters there are, see how passionate there are about it, to see they're not soft." Then why are they so crap? "I can't put my finger on why they haven't got the kids coming through," Green says. "I guess I've always wanted to play professional sport. You've still got to have a life as well, but the main thing is getting there and achieving that aim." Three months from the start of his first season, Green and his Demons teammates are training twice a day. Running and weights in the morning, skills and weights in the afternoon, come rain, hail or heatwave. He's loving it. "And I haven't even got lost too much yet. A good first season of half a dozen senior games and he'll still struggle to make more than $50,000, hardly poverty but mere chaff compared to what might have been goinghad he taken a punt on Walsall. Still, the earnings of sportspeople are relative; Green knows that success in the AFL means he won't want for a thing. Except maybe a baggy green cap. Melbourne recruiting manager Craig Cameron says a pre- draft meeting dispelled any concerns that he might pine tor the flannelled game. Eor Green's part, he is confident the right decision has been made. Cameron agrees: "In cricket, there's really -s im error. There's 35 guys, if that, who are on Australian Cricket Board contracts; there's 640 on AFL lists, and probably 300 ot them are making a good living. The Demons have seen enough of Green to believe the lett-iooter can make the elite group, with Cameron confident he II get a chance in 2000 on a wing or Hank. I wouldn t be surprised it he bobs , up for a. fe.w, games Picture: VINCE CAUQIURI next year. You don't say that about every kid," he said. Green played a couple of reserves games for Essendon last season when the Bombers' list was ailing, but his most memorable experience of big-time footy came at the annual AFL draft camp in October, when he and the other prime cattle were entertained by the league for a weekend at the Australian Institute of Sport. It was, he says, "probably the hardest two or three days I've been through". Classes on how to deal with the media, drugs in sport, fitness, health. By the end they were begging just to kick a ball. Green knows the torturous experience stands the new millennium's first-year crop in good stead, but he also knows that having all the ingredients rarely makes for a foolproof recipe in the rock 'n' roll world of sport. By freak coincidence there is the cautionary tale of another Brad Green, who stood on much the same plateau exacdy 20 years ago. He'd already beaten Geoff Marsh and David Boon to the captaincy of an Australian under 19 tour of England, and playing for Victoria against Western Australia in Perth they talked glowingly about Green as he shared a century stand with an 18-year-old debutant named Dean Jones. A couple of years later, he'd given it all away for the bright lights of teaching. Funnily enough, Green played basketball too. This Brad Green would know that tale. He'd know he lives in a cut-throat world. He'd know that if he takes it for granted, another Brad Green will come along and take it away from .him.

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