Collingwood honours Trevor
COLLINGWOOD Football Club has honoured Inverloch’s Trevor Steer with a prestigious life membership.
Trevor won the club’s Copeland Trophy in 1965.
The ceremony took place at the club’s annual general meeting earlier this month. Life membership brings with it a number of perks “but it is the honour that is foremost.”
Trevor’s life has been one full of memorable moments.
He was nine years old when his uncle took him to the cricket at the MCG in 1947 and he saw Sir Donald Bradman make a century. There were two things Trevor knew he wanted: to play test cricket for Australia and to play league football, as it was known then, on the MCG.
His chance came in 1961 on the Queen’s Birthday weekend when Collingwood played Melbourne in front of 80,000 people.
His first kick on the hallowed turf, playing full forward, Trevor lined up to kick for goal.
He kicked into the man on the mark.
Next day’s headline screamed “One miss then it was Collingwood’s day of gloom.”
“We lost the game by ten goals but to compensate for that first miss I kicked 4 of our seven.”
His greatest moment he nominates came in his first game for Collingwood against Geelong in round 1, 1961 at Kardinia Park, also Geelong great, Doug Wade’s first league game. When we left Melbourne it was raining and as the full forward I wasn’t feeling confident. Conditions weren’t ideal for me. But in Geelong it was fine.
“The ball came out of the centre, the pack went one way and I went the other, marked the ball, ran into an open goal and scored a goal with my first kick in league football.
“We were trounced that day and I learned two things, the first being Collingwood doesn’t like losing.
“But the coach called me aside and shook my hand. As he did I felt him slip something into my hand. ‘Jack asked me to give you this,’ he said.
“It was a ten pound note. A lot of money in those days.”
It was a gesture from past player and club patron Jack Galbally who had gone on to become the vice-president of the club.
In 1960 Neil Mann the Collingwood coach turned up at the door of my aunt and uncle’s house in Preston where Trevor was boarding while studying at Melbourne University and paying for the All Blacks and offered him two games with Collingwood in the up and coming finals.
“I said I can’t do that, the Uni Blacks are relying on me.
“I told my Uni Black team mates the next day and they couldn’t believe me,” but there you have another of those values which now seem to have gone by the wayside in the modern AFL game: club loyalty.
Collingwood had to wait until next year and when he did take his place in the side it was due to another player, Ray Gabelich’s injury.
“You can’t always make your own luck but when it comes your way you need to take advantage of it. If it hadn’t been for Ray Gabelich’s injury, you wouldn’t be talking to me here today.”
Trevor has much to say about he modern game of course and doesn’t have a lot of sympathy for the scandals that regularly seem to beset the careers of some in what we regard as the fishbowl nature of today’s AFL player.
“In my time it was no better or worse.
“In the 60s one in ten Melburnians went to the football on the weekend, a lot more than today.
“Melbourne was much smaller and we were recognized wherever we went and scrutinized.
“In many ways we were more in the limelight.”
Of last year’s Grand Final Trevor says, “It was a contest all the way but as a class match for all the things we regard as good about the AFL it was a three out of ten.
“Long kicking and high marking are minimalized.
“It is far more tactical and strategic but the game evolves and it will continue to evolve.”
Trevor is still an imposing man at 75 years old and until recently farmed 300 acres before moving to Inverloch and fits in a round of golf each week. Another of his life’s great achievements was saving the Mirboo North Secondary School, of which he was principal, from extinction at a time when the Education Department was keen to bus students from the town to larger schools in the Latrobe Valley and Leongatha.
Trevor recalls a packed school assembly at his alma mater, Scotch College in 2008, where guernseys were presented to players selected for the game the following day at the MCG between Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar commemorating the first game played between the two clubs 150 years earlier.
“The preliminaries included the singing of the hallelujah chorus and the assembly was addressed by Jeff Kennett before the guernseys were presented one by one.
“Each presenter’s career was spoken about as he waited to present the jumper and you could have heard a pin drop.
“My skin prickles as I remember the occasion.
“At times I wonder why this happened to me.
“My parents weren’t gifted sports people.
“I was just lucky.
Concluding the story Trevor is tearful and wiping tears from his eyes I couldn’t help recalling A.B. Facey describing his as a fortunate life. Trevor Steer’s certainly has been one such life.
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