At the Bar with … Reece Humphreys

Reece HumphreysReece Humphreys played 107 games for Power House in a career that spanned 11 seasons between 2003 and 2013. He was a key member of the 2006 Senior Premiership team while also successfully coaching the Reserves that same year to Premiership success. Reece was senior captain in 2010 under Martin Pike and has spent the past two seasons as Senior Assistant Coach supporting Ant Voyage.

Pav: Reece, you’ve been around a while now, how did you first get to Power House?

Reece: A friend of mine Dave Galakos played one season here and was mates with Craig Richardson. When I moved to Port Melbourne in 2003 he told me to give Craig a call and come down to training. It was a great time as my two housemates, Matthew Taylor (Tails) and Damien Glanville also came down and played which was great fun. After a while a few more mates and my cousin (Chris “Dools” Doolan) came down to play and it was an awesome place to be around – playing football with your mates is the best thing you could do which is still noticeable today in the group!

Unfortunately four games into my first season I did my ACL on my left knee and had a reconstruction, missing the rest of the year and came back the following season.

Pav: Ahh Dave Galakos…now he could play.

Reece: He was probably one of the best players ever to play at Power House. An absolute gun player who – by his own choice – never played Seniors at Power House. He must really have loved Richo’s coaching!

Pav: So you walked in to the club when Brett Devlin was coach. What was he like?

Reece: Brett was an intense fella. He actually played at one of my old clubs (Melton South) in the Ballarat League. I later found out that his nick name was ‘Psycho’ which was fitting as he certainly had white line fever! I think we started that year at 3-0 and looked like it was going to be a big year. Unfortunately we had a number of injuries that year and we really fell off.

Pav: And Patrick “Nobby” Haselar was Senior Captain. How did that work for you?

Reece: One of the all-time great blokes. He was a player that didn’t let you down on the field, he gave you everything and you knew he was going to give you 100% in everything he did. I remember having many a chats with him and his enthusiasm was certainly infectious.

Pav: You were kind of a swingman in your playing days, half back to half forward and anywhere in between. Where did you prefer to play?

Reece: I started as a midfielder which is where I enjoyed playing at first. After coming back from the knee reconstruction, I injured my shoulder, came back six weeks later and injured the other shoulder – after that I realised that playing in the midfield was going to be a challenge so ran around as a half back flanker which was fun, although playing with Scratcher was always a challenge when we played as a spare man in defence! The last couple of years I played as a half forward flanker which I really enjoyed bagging a few goals.

Pav: You were injured a fair bit throughout your career. I would say you were unlucky but Patty Arnold thinks you were just soft.

Reece: But yeah, there were a number of injuries as described above. Others included ankles, knees and the usual back related hammy and groin injuries. It got to a point where I was using so much tape to play with both shoulders, ankles and a knee strapped it actually restricted my movement!

I would have loved to be able to play some more but another ACL injury ended it all unfortunately!

Pav: Speaking of Patty Arnold…how do you get on with him. He’s an interesting character…

Reece: Patty Arnold started the same year as me. …He reminded me when we first spoke that we went to school together and I still can’t really remember him….He has done well to win the reserves goal kicking on 23 season goals—a great effort by him!

One thing I do remember of Patty was putting him through the toughest fitness test on the eve of the 2006 grand final and he strained his hamstring on the last drill of the night. It was disappointing for him to miss out but from a coaching perspective meant less selection headache for the game!

Pav: Besides Brett Devlin, you played under a few coaches during your career, Rob Sarosi, Darren Cooper and Martin Pike. We will get to Sarosi in a minute…let’s talk about Coops…but let’s try and keep it short…he’s already got a big enough ego!

Reece: Yes Coops needs no introduction, he can give it all to you himself! He is one of my great mates and one of the best leaders I have had – both on and off the field! His first year of coaching he took us to third and we missed out on the grand final by a 50m goal after the siren to Eltham Collegians. What was most disappointing was the fact that there were four of us in the stands watching the game through injury and were ready to play the following week. Very heartbreaking.

Pav: What about Martin Pike. Was he as tough and hard as his reputation? What was he really like?

Reece: He was tough and scary, particularly when he gave some sprays in the breaks. The biggest thing that stood out for Pikey was that he hated to lose. If we won, he would come up for a beer, but if we lost he would take it very hard. He demanded a lot from his players and he had so much football knowledge that I reckon we only scratched the surface of with him, when he really opened up about his football knowledge it was some of the best stuff that I was ever taught.

I think the hardest thing for him was coming from a structured and professional environment in the AFL the amateur nature of our club was too far removed.

Pav: In your time, you would have seen some great players pull on the famous green white and black. Who really stood out?

Reece: There were a number of great players. In my first few years we had James Marshall from Tasmania who was an amazing player, I think against Syndal he took something like 25 marks. He also brought his brother down in 2003 who had just been delisted by Melbourne Football Club and just wanted to play amateurs with James!

I really don’t want to offend anyone….Paul Edwards was an amazing player, kicked 100 goals in our premiership year and even started a few games as full back! My good mate Matthew Hill was a tough on baller, Tails could certainly play, and Alan Foster was a great mark and tough player, someone I loved playing with…..Damian Boland, Coops, and seeing the player “Ace” Collett has become is great to see!

Pav: Let’s talk about 2006… a great year for the club. A great year for you personally. What do you remember?

Reece: Rob Sarosi coming to the club and bestowing his managerial approach to coaching the team was refreshing and something we needed at the time. We recruited well and Rob was someone who could talk the ear off anyone so was able to generate a lot of excitement for the group.

The seniors actually finished equal top but third on percentage so had to do it the hard way, beating Box Hill North by a few points in the first final, then we smashed Eltham Collegians in the Prelim and our arch rivals Hawthorn in the Grand Final. It was an amazing turn around as we lost to Hawthorn by over 100 points earlier in the year so was very satisfying to win the return match!

In the reserves we lost the first final to Eltham who also reported our captain (Rocket Marshall) who was subsequently suspended for the rest of the finals series. We turned the game around in the grand final by beating Eltham and making it a memorable day and year.

The Youtube clip of Scratcher also makes me smile….

Pav: The way I remember it, you were close to retiring at the end of 2005 after a bad injury and I recall sitting at ET’s pub in High Street Prahran with you and Rob Sarosi with Rob begging you to play and then asking you to coach the Reserves.

Reece: Correct, given my poor injury run over the previous three years, I actually decided not to play at the start of the season and was going to be the Reserves coach only. Rob managed to talk me out of retirement and I think I missed only one game for the year.

I am forever grateful that I was able to win two premiership medallions and will go down as one of the greatest weekends of my life!

Pav: I was Chairman of Selectors that season so I spent plenty of time with you, Sarosi, Glenn Scotland and Darren Cooper in the selection room. We had some “interesting” discussions.

Reece: Selection nights are some of the most interesting nights that can be held, they are fun, tense and very challenging and to tell you the truth they haven’t changed at all in 2016!

One thing I remember in 2006 was the level of pre work by Jason Nicholls with every member of that committee room. He was the consummate “back room politician” ensuring that he had enough votes to make the side in the final as from memory he was coming back from injury and was nervous for his spot!

Pav: We had a fair team back then. Any thoughts on some of your teammates. Let’s see… Alan “Fossy” Foster?

Reece: Fossy was amazing, such a gentle and nice bloke, very casual in his approach, and some of the sharpest elbows going around. He missed a few games with injury but I reckon it was simply to rest his body when it was getting tight.

Pav: What about Preston Miskelly.

Reece: Preston came from nowhere to be a very reliable pack mark in our backline. I think from memory he lost something like 30kgs from the start of preseason to make it into our senior side. Then two years later he was gone!

Pav: Tell me about Matt “Tails” Taylor. He was certainly a character…he could also really play

Reece: It was great to play with Tails. As I mentioned we lived together and are great mates. I used to play against him in the Ballarat League so was awesome to play alongside him.

Off the field he was and still is a funny cat – and on the dance floor his pistol dancing is some of the best stuff you have every seen!

Pav: And Darren Cooper?

Reece: Coops this, Coops that, can we talk about someone else now?!?!….Just kidding, he was captain of our side in 2006 and a great leader. He even won the medal for best on that day which I think we might need to do a re-count!!

Pav: What about Damien Boland. “The Blanket”

Reece: Looking at DB you would think it would be a great day out as he looked about 50 and had zero body fat on him. But to see his opponents demoralised at the end of the fourth quarter was something that we loved to see in the backline. Paul Sosic would always remind the full forwards of this in the most polite way!

Pav: Lastly, Let’s talk about Rob Sarosi. Can you give me your insights?

Reece: Rob Sarosi is a great real estate agent, and he coached our 2006 side….Seriously, he did such a fantastic job in 2006 bringing a club that the year before had only won a handful of games to two premierships is something else. His coaching technique was a little different but it certainly worked!

Personally he was a great mentor for me in 2006 as it was my first year coaching and he really assisted when I needed it.

Pav: You had a fantastic Reserves team that won the flag that year. Tell me about some of the players.

Reece: Did we what! I think we had almost every player in the twos bar one of two at some stage play senior football throughout the year. Where do I start, Chris Stevens in the ruck (he could have been anything) Chris “Bowls” Bowley at centre half forward, Bathy, Neil Seewang at full back and Roachy in the middle, Spudda, Dave Mullen, Nugget, Tim McFarlane, the list goes on!

The best thing about coaching that side was that they genuinely wanted to play for each other and most of all win. There were some really tight games that could have gone either way but running out with the senior side and slapping high fives with all the players was an awesome feeling.

Pav: Rod “Rocket” Marshall was captain…he missed out on the Premiership after being suspended in the Preliminary Final right?

Reece: Yes as mentioned earlier it was one of the most criminal injustices of the last decade. A free kick was not awarded in the incident, the umpires did not see anything, the opposition player managed to play out the game and then a letter was submitted to the VAFA from the players mother. A disgrace!

Pav: How have you seen the club change over your time at the club?

Reece: The club as gone through a massive change which is reflective of society as well. The football club used to be the heart of the community, but these days, there are plenty of other activities and hobbies for people to choose. The playing group we have right now have a real sense of community, which is something that has been missing the past few years, and no surprise it is being reflected by the way we are now playing.

What I also love about Power House, is that we know that the players really WANT to be there…which is what makes us a great club.

Pav: How is life as Assistant Coach working with Ant Voyage as the current Senior Coach?

Reece: Ant has a great passion for football and wants to succeed so much. He is a genuine person who in his four years here still has so much respect of the playing group. It is infectious being with him and I love being a part of the coaching staff with him (although sometimes have to calm him down!!!).

During the games I throw ideas at him and some of them stick some of them don’t (when they do I certainly take credit from him), but all in all, we do work well together and I back him 100%. He tries to squeeze as much out of the playing group as possible and I am so happy for him that we are playing finals this year.

I would have loved to have seen him play, as he tells me how good he used to be…..

Pav: Thanks Reece for your time…