Dasher joins footy folk­lore

The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAR­RYD BARCA

Bet­ter known as ‘Dasher’, the 333-game vet­eran of the Roos was a mem­ber of the club’s fa­mous pre­mier­ships in 2000 and 2003, cap­tain­ing the first of those tri­umphs.

Spencer holds the equal club games record with fel­low O&M hall of famer Den­nis San­dral, who was in­ducted back in 2009.

Spencer’s highly dec­o­rated ca­reer also in­cludes rep­re­sent­ing NSW Coun­try and rep­re­sent­ing and co-coach­ing O&M.

One of six Hall of Fame in­ductees for 2018, Spencer was hum­bled when re­al­iz­ing he would be a re­cip­i­ent of such a pres­ti­gious award.

“It’s not some­thing that you ex­pect, there are a lot of great names and great play­ers in that group (of in­ductees) and I don’t nec­es­sar­ily feel that I’m a part of it,” he told The Free Press.

Spencer re­mains one of just two play­ers who have fea­tured in all three of Corowa Ruther­glen’s grand fi­nal ap­pear­ances since the merger be­tween the Ruther­glen Redlegs and Corowa Spi­ders in 1979.

1992 was the first of those grand fi­nals, with the Roos go­ing down by 22 points to a strong Wodonga side.

“We had a re­ally young side in ’92. We played the Wan­garatta Rovers in the pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal and were 19 points down with five min­utes to go … we kicked a few goals, got over the line and cel­e­brated that game like we won the pre­mier­ship,” Spencer said at the Hall of Fame Din­ner, re­flect­ing on the grand fi­nal de­feat.

“We made the grand fi­nal and got rolled un­for­tu­nately, and when you’re young like that you prob­a­bly think that it’s just go­ing to hap­pen go­ing for­ward and it didn’t.”

For a while that is, given Spencer’s day in the sun ar­rived eight sea­sons later, cap­tain­ing Corowa Ruther­glen to a record-break­ing 108-point pre­mier­ship vic­tory.

It re­mains the sec­ond high­est score ever recorded in O&M grand fi­nal his­tory, reg­is­ter­ing a to­tal of 180 points against a hap­less North Al­bury.

“I can’t re­mem­ber how many goals we kicked in that first quar­ter, we kicked quite a few, most things seemed to be rolling our way,” Spencer said.

“We just had a lot of good play­ers, ev­ery­one was on and it was one of those days where things just went right.”

But for Spencer, salut­ing in 2003 was much more sat­is­fy­ing.

“In 2000 we fin­ished on top, won the semi fi­nal and then went straight in. In 2003 we were 2-5 after seven games,” he re­called.

“We got on a bit of a roll, made the elim­i­na­tion fi­nal and it was much more sat­is­fy­ing be­cause we had to beat ev­ery­one on the way through.”

Spencer also told The Free Press what it meant to re­main a one-club player for the en­tirety of his il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer.

“For me, Corowa Ruther­glen had just al­ways been my home club, it was just a nat­u­ral loy­alty,” he said.

“I lived in the town, we ran a busi­ness in the town so I never re­ally felt the urge to play any­where else.

“It is some­thing that I’m proud of now, look­ing back, that I played all my footy at the one club.”

Spencer frankly puts the hon­our of be­ing

Corowa Ruther­glen cham­pion Dar­rell Spencer joined O&M folk­lore on Wed­nes­day, July 4 when he was in­ducted into the Ovens and Murray Foot­ball Net­ball League Hall of Fame.

awarded and rec­og­nized with Hall of Fame sta­tus down to a love for footy and en­joy­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence with other club mem­bers and play­ers.

“I just loved play­ing footy, I loved the Roos and we have a lot of great char­ac­ters at the Corowa Ruther­glen footy club – we have for a long time,” he said.

“It wasn’t al­ways just about play­ing and win­ning. I had the time of my life when I was play­ing footy, it was al­ways great fun play­ing a sport that I loved.

“We had some re­ally suc­cess­ful years and we had our down years too but through­out it all play­ing at a footy club, it be­comes like your sec­ond fam­ily so it was al­ways an easy choice for me.”

Ac­cord­ing to Spencer, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing those pre­mier­ship wins will al­ways be “cher­ished mo­ments”, hop­ing the cur­rent Corowa Ruther­glen seniors can ex­pe­ri­ence a sim­i­lar turn in for­tu­ity.

“The footy en­vi­ron­ment has changed a lot over prob­a­bly the last five or six years, it’s a lot dif­fer­ent now to what it was back then but the wheels do turn,” he said.

“Noth­ing stays the same, so I do have con­fi­dence that with the right mix of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence and good off-field guid­ance that we can be com­pet­i­tive again in the Ovens and Murray League.”

Dar­rell ‘Dasher’ Spencer be­came the sixth Corowa Ruther­glen rep­re­sen­ta­tive to be in­ducted into the O&M Hall of Fame.

A col­lage of Dasher’s play­ing days, in­clud­ing his 300-game mile­stone and pre­mier­ship vic­tory with the Roos.

Foot­ball has al­ways been a big part of Dar­rell Spencer’s life. Here he is kick­ing a footy in the back­yard as a three-year-old.

Dar­rell Spencer pic­tured with his sons Cal­lum (17, left) and Tyler (19) who both cur­rently play footy at Corowa Ruther­glen, on the night of the O&M Hall of Fame Din­ner.

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