Lam­bourn feasts on suc­cess

The Cobram Courier - - SPORT - From page 24.

‘‘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.

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