Justin McConnell Interview 2009

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An interview with Justin McConnell, as published on Snouts louts forum.

NOT TO BE COPIED without permission from snoutslouts.org and Justin McConnell.


A bit of background. Your parents live around Bacchus Marsh. did you play for the Cobras before heading to North Ballarat ?

Yeah played at both the Bacchus Marsh Cobras and Darley Devils as a kid. They are the 2 teams that are in the town. Started off at the Devils as I went to primary school in Darley then I ended playing at Bacchus Marsh when I went to High School as all my mates were over there. Mum and Dad still live there now.

You've spoken of playing on some "guns" including Steve Johnson. Tell us about that and if you had AFL aspirations and if anyone came knocking ?

Throughout my early years at North Ballarat I played predominately in the back half and lined up as you said on some guns like Stevie J, Aaron Davey, Stephen Milne and I even lined up on a superstar called Ruory Kirkby. I got 2 Liston medal votes on him that day so make sure you mention that to him-he hates it!! As far as the AFL goes after I finished up at TAC Cup level with the Western Jets I trained at the Bulldogs for a while but it didn’t work out so I shifted to Ballarat to attend uni and play in the VFL.

B & F at North Ballarat, 2005, playing under Gavin Crosisca. Tell us about that year before you headed over to the Bays ?

2005 was a good year for me personally. Gav was very good to me, he was harder on me than any coach I had but it was probably a good thing. He used me all year at half back playing a quarterback type role and he invested a lot of time and faith in me. I was lucky enough to win the club B & F, runner up in the Liston Medal and made the team of the year. I owe a lot to him for putting so much faith in me that particular year. I had 5 years at North and that was by far and away my best.

You came over from the VFL at the end of 2005 for the 2006 season, from North Ballarat tell us what inspired the move ?

North Ballarat were a stand alone club in the VFL but after 2005 they decided to align with North Melbourne. I didn’t really agree with the idea at the time, as the 10-15 guys we got each week would hardly train with us, leave to go back to Melbourne straight after games and were only interested in getting back up to the AFL which is fair enough for them. I felt it would lose the club environment. But to me that’s not what being a part of a footy club is about, mateship and enjoyment are the keys I reckon. So my partner Amy and I decided to take the plunge and head to sunny Glenelg.

Snoutslouts.You've just been approached by the club saying this group of good looking blokes & ladies wish to sponsor a player, you're name is up. What were your initial thoughts ?

Initially I didn’t know too much about the group but after my first game at Norwood, back at the Fountain Inn the amount of support and well wishes I got from members of the group was quite flattering. The support from you guys for me and the team has always been first class.

In your first 12 games in 2006 you kicked 10 goals. Then in his next 5 games you kicked 20 goals, which was Glenelgs 5 game winning streak from rounds 15-19 that started against South at Glenelg when you kicked 4. I believe that was the first time you played up forward on a regular basis, standing David Clarke. Can you explain the move from HBF to HFF and Rubbers inspiration behind it ?

Throughout the whole year I predominately played on the wing. The first half of the season Mark wanted me to play a wing/back type role where I helped the defence and was used as a sweeper and link up through back half. Midway through the year he said to start getting forward a bit, play a more attack orientated wing game and was lucky enough to kick a few. At the end of quarters he did rest me up forward a bit but as well.

2007 saw you kick a very good total of 64 goals and a cult hero was born.You kicked a bag of 6 or more 4 times, all at Glenelg Oval. Describe the stellar season you had that year ?

2007 was a very enjoyable year. The team was playing some great footy towards the back end of the season and I was getting on the end of a few. My confidence that year was really high especially as you said at Glenelg Oval. There’s nothing better than walking down to the Snouts Pocket End to start the last quarter knowing you’ve got a chance to kick a few goals and help win the game.

Snouts pocket. All the boys love kicking a goal from that pocket, and the anticipation of turning around and pumping the crowd up. Did it hold more significance being sponsored by a heap of us and pumping the fist as the ball went through the sticks ?

Yeah it did. There was always a special sense of satisfaction and now all the boys love kicking a goal there and celebrating with the louts. You can hear the roar of the crowd and sense of anticipation when your near the ball around the SL pocket

2008 was a hot and cold year for you at the club. You played 19 games, but found yourself in the Reserves a couple of times and it appeared the mojo was taking a hit. Was this the start of your back problems which called your hand in retiring at the end of this year?

I started off 08 better than any other year- think I had kicked 40 goals in the first 10 games but my form tapered off. I’m not too sure of the reasons why though. You could put it down to a combination to a lot of things but to be at my best I need to be playing instinctively and towards the end of the year I was second guessing myself and lost confidence. With my back and hamstring issues I wasn’t able to go up onto the wing or across half back which limited me as well. Playing that small forward role is generally a hard spot to play consistently as opportunities don’t always fall your way but I was disappointed in my output in the second half of the year.

The final game for season 2008 for yourself was against the Doggies where you twanged the hammy, and then saw the lads make the GF the following week by smashing Sturt. Was that the lowlight for you at the club ?

Not really a lowlight but definitely bitter-sweet. I was extremely excited for the boys who were playing and put up a brave face, but deep down it was terribly hard to watch. All the hard work and sacrifice the club had put in for 3 years and to see where it had came from, it was a bitter pill to swallow. There were mixed feelings no doubt, but make no mistake I wanted to see our boys win.

2009 was an up and down year for you also. Your form in the reserves was excellent, culminating in runner up in the reserves Magarey medal and winning a flag. Goddsy used you to plug holes down back, and then go up forward and boot goals did you enjoy playing in those positions?

Playing in the reserves actually really taught me a lot about myself as a person and as a footballer, probably more than any other year i’ve ever had. Being an older guy there for an extended period really made me think more about the team, guiding young fella’s, setting a good example on field, talking openly to the group. As frustrating as it was not getting back up, I thoroughly enjoyed playing there and I started to get really enthusiastic about my footy again. I owe a lot to those younger guys and especially Micky Godden, he’s a champ.

You were recalled to the league side for the finals but had limited opportunities against Central, only to see your self dropped back down to the Ressies. Was that the time you thought yep, hang up the 33?

No not really. I was still really keen to do well in the reserves for Goddsy, all the young guys and for my old mate Dulds. It was disappointing to be dropped but that’s footy. My form wasn't great at senior level the last few weeks but I was determined to finish my time at the club on a good note. I was pretty focused on finishing my time at the club on a positive note, I had 4 years at the bay and had a lot more good times than bad.

The reserves GF. You blokes were gone for all money at half time. 40 odd points down. What was said at half time and the thoughts running through your head in the second half ?

I can’t exactly remember what Goddsy said but I can vividly remember looking around the room and all the guys were fixated on his words. It was just about winning the 3rd quarter and having a sniff at the break. As a group we weren’t playing that well and the reserves have a habit of winning from nowhere, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried.

McGinty was off with his back, and our centre was Dogger, Macca & Hingey ? The slowest centre line all season, totally chewed and spat out the Eagles. Must of been a good feeling ?

Yeah it was an amazing feeling. It’s hard to describe the elation, joy and excitement you feel. To come from so far down and win it against the top side it makes it more sweeter. As for the centre line I’m not sure whether it was to put the more experienced guys in the middle or to put some more pace and excitement up forward but it worked. In that second half everyone played a part and that’s what makes it so rewarding.

The reserves GF was that your highlight at the Bay during the four season here ?

Yeah most definitely. That’s what you play any sport for- ultimate team success, and to share it with a group of up and coming stars, some wise old heads and a ripping coaching and support staff made it pretty sweet. My time here was full of some very fond memories. I was also lucky to be on the Mouse’s table when he won the Magarey Medal in 2006 and that was a fantastic night. Individually I came runner up in a B & F, won a Goalkicking award, SANFL Team of the Year but more importantly met some great people. When Amy and I came over here we knew nobody and to develop so many friendships, that’s probably the most satisfying thing to come from the journey here.

What about the lads you played with. Panozzo & Mulesy you both played the most games with (68). Your good mate Dogger 50. Who were the characters and what dirt can you dish out on them ?

The 3 you mentioned above are all good characters, and I could probably dish some dirt on them but I’m sure they would have some material on me also so I’ll keep them under wraps. But Duldig does look strikingly similar to Crazy John.

You played league footy with 64 blokes. Can you name them ? No just joking on that, but of all the blokes you played with who did you love having the pill, and leading out thinking this is gonna hit my nipples?

Definitely not Murphy and his horizontal helicopter’s. Panozzo, Mouse and Tommy Holmes were some of the best I can remember.

In your league games you had 865 kicks and a mammoth 259 handballs. When the stats were discussed how many blokes gave you a mouthful for not handballing to them ?

Ty Allen loved to bring it up and Ruory and Todd mentioned it was like trying to get blood from a stone- getting a handball receive from me inside 50, but generally it was all good natured fun.

Speaking of mouthfuls, it's understood the lads gave you a bit of friendly ribbing about the Snouts banners which you featured on a few times. They were jealous right ?

Definitely jealous. The boys always have a sneaky look at the banner as we run out.

Tell us a bit about your role with the SANFL & Glenelg Footy club ? And what it was like watching some kids come through the system ?

Yeah I’m employed by the SANFL to run football programs in the schools in the GFC Zone, take care of the Auskick and football carnivals across SA. The job satisfaction side of things is great, very rewarding. Kids are excited to participate and you meet some very passionate people out in the football fraternity. Lucky enough to have had watched Hayden Jolly, Alex Carey and Craig Pitt at school level, GFC level and hopefully now AFL level.

After you finish at the club will you go into Teaching ? What subjects did you specialise in ?

I’m a Primary School teacher so I’’ll definitely look at getting into that. Specialise in Physical Education and Health. I enjoy being around kids and help and see them learn and develop, and hopefully having a positive influence on them.

Macca, just a few word association questions;

Pre-Season Training


3 Km Time Trial


Skinfold Callipers


Hair Product


Wrist Bracelet

Powerbalance- saviour


short priced winner better than a long shot loser


happy kids

Mark Mickan


Michael Godden


Brenton Hole


Dogger Is it Dogger, Digger, Dulgs or what ?

How long have we got- Dogger/Digger/Dugdale/Dulditch/Crazy John/CJ/ Matthew Lokan’s twin brother the list goes on – he won’t see this will he, he’ll knock me out

Glenelg Football Club

fantastic footy club-very fond memories

And a final one Macca. Just heard that the skin fold callipers are broken. Apparently due to overuse on yourself & Dogger. Any comments ?

I don’t want to think about those things ever again thanks

Macca it's been a pleasure. Thanks for the highlights. Thanks for the good times you gave the sponsors. Thanks for the help you gave everyone involved in junior footy at the Bay (myself included), and best of luck in the future what ever you decide to do. Look forward to seeing you and Dogger up on the hill for a few beers.

We’ll be there- I think you boys should shout us a cold one come round 1

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