In this the 1st of our 'Where are they now' series, President Gavin Kaye chats with former Club Premiership Captain Ian Grummitt.
Ian Grummitt, 128 games (Waverley Panthers: Seniors 65, 1 Reserves; Waverley Blues 60 Seniors, 2 Reserves) from 1995 to 2002, co-captain with David Waterhouse in the first year of Waverley Blues and then captain in the 2000 Premiership year.
GK: How did it come about you playing for the Blues?
IG: I played football for my home town of Kyabram in the Goulburn Valley League and was commuting from Melbourne in 1994. I trained with Old Carey, but their season finished several weeks before Kyabram's season. I asked Waverley Football Club if I could train with them for the last three weeks of their season. I then decided to play with Waverley in 1995. A key consideration was how welcoming the Waverley players were to me - I particularly remember Stuart Meikle, Darren Richards, the Bell brothers, Steve Jasiak, Pete Graham, and Brendan Greenwood going out of their way to make me welcome even before I was contemplating playing.
GK: What were some of your favourite memories/highlights from your playing days?
IG: I really enjoyed the camaraderie, of blokes from all different walks of life. I loved occasional stints at Centre Half Forward, but also the close knit backline we had through the 1990s and beyond, with legends like Dale Connolly, Bushy Conroy, Pete Graham, Brendan Greenwood, Darren Richards, Mick McNess, Stu Meikle, Nick Molloy, Adam Ternes and Steve Jasiak trying to squeeze into that defensive unit. We all knew each others capabilities and combined well. I was really pleased to be able to return to football in 1994 after six years out with a serious back injury.While I was lucky to enjoy a successful junior and senior football career at Kyabram, the 2000 premiership and the journey to it was the biggest highlight. We had been runners up in three of the previous four years - to finally be part of a premiership team brought much excitement and relief to me and to so many amongst the players, committee and supporters.I miss that brief period of reflection after a match, when we had played well and which then transformed into celebrating the club song led by Chris Tasic. We had pretty average clubrooms at Columbia Reserve, but some pretty amazing functions.
GK: In terms of characters, any in particular that you remember fondly?
IG: Full forwards - most seem to be enigmatic, quirky, or fiery - some characters amongst them from Andrew Clothier who walked home to Narre Warren one day from Columbia Reserve; to Matty Vale who was spasmodically brilliant, to one of my favourite players in the high flying Andrew Slevison.
Pete Graham - ripping quiet one liners, together with an astute football brain.
Ty Esler - never played for Waverley, but certainly tore up the social scene, from phantom commentary from the roof of the clubrooms, to wearing a tutu in the three quarter time huddle.
GK: How about some of the Coaches you played under?
IG: I was fortunate to enjoy passionate and dedicated coaches, particularly, the old fashioned motivational speeches delivered by Manny Debono, like the day we transformed from boys to men, and men to heroes.
The Rod Luke years developing the Waverley Blues culture - we will always be proud of taking out the premiership.
Dave Skinner's coaching, and each player effectively had a pre-season personal trainer in Dave.
GK: How often would you get down nowadays to watch the Blues?
IG: About five games a season.
GK: Thoughts on footy and the club now as to when you played, has much changed or similar?
IG: I am been very impressed with the club's committee since the Waverley Blues merger, starting from the first year under the joint presidency of Barry Carter and Brendan Greenwood. I get a real buzz out of seeing former teammates who evolved into taking on key responsibilities at the club, such as Turtle, Sloppy, Villa, and Rowey. The former Waverley players have a particular appreciation for the enthusiastic, motivated and talented committeemen, as we all recall 1998 was a real struggle off the field.
Some of the key people in the Waverley/Mt Waverley merger are contemplating documenting how this evolved for historical purposes - there have been some preliminary discussions amongst Brendan Greenwood, Mark Cox, Nick Bell, Mick McNess, and co. It could become a blueprint for other clubs considering merging. There was a strong committee from Mt Waverley together with a talented contingent of players from Waverley. We were also fortunate to enjoy playing with some young guns from Mt Waverley juniors who have had distinguished careers at Waverley Blues like the Hindsons, Savages, and Matt Watts. I played in jumper #21 throughout my junior and senior football career, and have been pleased that Glenn Mahoney has played in it with such distinction.
As for the Waverley Blues footballers in 2015, I am impressed with the skill of the players, that they are well coached, and that it is generally an attractive standard to watch.
GK: You're still very active with the Past Players group, how is that all going and what is coming up for the Past Players Group this year?
IG: My involvement started when arranging the 10 year anniversary of the 2000 premiership, which was a fantastic day. Being the first senior premiership since Waverley (VFA) in 1965, and Mt Waverley in 1964, and having gone close in previous years, that drought breaking 2000 premiership was one to savour. Attendees at past players days have built up over the years, with about 80 last year. It was a real privilege to help bring the 1964 teammates together from far and wide to celebrate the 50 year premiership anniversary last year, and we are anticipating another big afternoon on 16 May 2015.
GK: Thanks for taking the time out to chat Grummo and we look forward to seeing you up at some games in 2015.