Lambourn feasts on success
‘‘They said because you took it upon yourself to ring the club, it cost them nothing to get me there and I played well, they wanted to return the favour to me,’’ he said.
‘‘So two weeks later I flew up to Sydney and was again in the best.
‘‘I headed home and fronted up to work at 10 am on Monday morning to see Tom Hafey standing there in the car park at the golf club. He signed me for the rest of the season.’’
Lambourn played more than a dozen reserves games. But despite being named an emergency, the call-up to the Swans’ seniors never came.
‘‘They asked me if I wanted to go, but there were no guarantees,’’ he said.
‘‘There was no job, no accommodation and I was not prepared to take the gamble.’’
Lambourn’s decision was warmly welcomed at Ovens and Murray club Wodonga.
‘‘I played in 1989 when we got beaten by Yarrawonga in the grand final and the first six games of 1990,’’ he said. ‘‘But I wanted a break, so I tossed the job in and went to Europe.
‘‘I had a ski job to go back to in France, but while I was there I ran into my old teammate Robbie West, who was at West Perth with Jeff Gieschen and about nine other guys from Wodonga.
‘‘Even though I was in another city, it was like being home, especially after we caught up and had a few drinks, so I couldn’t leave.’’
Lambourn spent the next two seasons with the Falcons before joining the GVFL, playing some quality football on a half-back flank for Lemnos.
‘‘I played for the Victoria Country side that year and really enjoyed my football. I was physically and mentally reaching my peak,’’ he said.
Lambourn’s efforts were recognised when he polled 23 votes to win the 1996 Morrison Medal.
Lambourn took over from Squire as coach for the 1997 and 1998 seasons, when he did everything from strapping ankles, getting the ice packs ready and filling bottles of water, to grabbing the cones for training and phone calls.
‘‘It was a lot of hard work,’’ he said.
‘‘I thought if that is coaching, then never again for me.’’
Lambourn spent 1999 as a player at the Swans and was eyeing off a return to Cobram when a slice of fate changed his direction.
‘‘Tony Tranter was coaching Shepparton and took a job up in Brisbane not long before Christmas,’’ he said.
‘‘The club was in dire straits when it came to a coach and Shepparton asked if I was interested in coming down.
‘‘I said ‘not really’, because of the experience at Lemnos, but they convinced me the club was different.
‘‘I took a training session and all the little things were right, the balls were pumped up, the drink bottles were full, the witches hats were already there and the players were on the track ready to go.’’
Lambourn and the Bears proved a perfect match.
‘‘I was smarter and wiser the second time around and a lot more comfortable with myself as a coach,’’ Lambourn said.
‘‘Shepparton had a great team with the likes of Stephen Ash, Matt Byers, Sam Ahmet, Paul Hallahan, Brendan Bicknell, the Wells boys and Anthony Mellington, back from his time at AFL level.
‘‘It was one of those years where the club was hungry for success and a memorable one because the seniors, reserves and thirds all won the flag.’’
That win gave Lambourn the rare distinction of being a member of senior premiership teams in the Murray, Ovens and Murray and Goulburn Valley competitions.
Recognition: Ron Haley (centre) with daughter Sue and son Peter.
What a feeling: Mark Lambourn on the field at Geelong after victory against Tasmania in the AFL Masters Games.