Name: Gerard Phyland
Playing Years at NOBs: 1990-1993, 1999-2004
Games Played: 137 Games (116 Senior, 20 Reserve, 1 Under 19)
Ged Phyland arrived at North Old Boys in 1990 as an exceptionally talented 18 year old. From the moment he walked into the club it was obvious to all that this was no shy retiring boy from Wagga Wagga. Rather this bubbly personality was one out of the box, and this kid wasn’t afraid to speak his mind.
Gerard is one of John and Maureen Phyland’s many children. And as they saw their boy off to Melbourne in the summer of 1990, they knew he was going to take the city by storm. He’d just come of back to back flags with Riverna FL powerhouse MCU in 1988-89, and was under the eye of Collingwood’s recruiting scouts. But Ged didn’t quite make it to Victoria Park, as he had a higher calling, as Mark Hanneberry and Gerard Sholly directed him to the finest club in the Amateurs, North Old Boys.
This kid from the sticks was thrown straight into the deep end by coach Robert Hyde. And in his North Old Boys senior debut against Parade at Parade, Ged couldn’t help but dare to be different. Looking back it’s of no real surprise that his first touch for the club was roving off the ruckman in the centre, a couple of side steps before bursting out of the centre and drilling it down the throat of team-mate Chopper Handley. Problem was Chopper was the full back and Ged had gone the wrong way. A memorable first touch and a great way to impress the coach, but those on the bench at the time say that Robert Hyde turned around and mused, “I shouldn’t be surprised, he’s from Wagga after all.”
Ged soon was an integral part of the North Old Boys First XVIII. And in his second year he was part of a side that finished well clear on top of the A-Grade ladder. Though a loss to De La Salle in the 2nd semi saw the NOBs face Old Scotch in the preliminary final. And in an awesome display the Scotchies were mauled to the tune of 107 points. Ged was instrumental in this win, having between 28-35 possessions, depending on how many beers he’s had when telling the story. The following week NOBs met long time foes De La Salle again in the Elsternwick bog, and soon found themselves 54 points down at the half. After half time it was all North, but in the end it was a shattering defeat as the bold comeback fell just 5 lousy points short. Though Ged was instrumental in the North fightback, and was deservedly named as one of the best. It was of no surprise to Gerard, as after the game as the players sat stony faced and silent in the rooms, a young Gerard Phyland turned to a young Peter O’Farrell and said, “I thought I played pretty well today, don’t you think?”
Though in seriousness the 1991 Grand Final remains the memorable moment from his time at North. It was an incredible season that he loved being a part of, but the lack of a premiership medallion is a great regret.
Ged played till 1993 before he headed to Bacchus Marsh in the Ballarat F.L where his brother was coaching. Again he was part of a good football side as the Marsh reached the BFL grand final in 1995. He’d conquered the amateurs and also the BFL. The next logical step was the VFA, so the boy headed down to Sandringham in 1996 to try his luck in the big time. He acquitted himself well and 13 senior games in 1996 was the result.
It was after this year that Ged realised that Australia wasn’t big enough for him, and could contain him no longer. So he put the boots away in the drawer, grabbed his denim jacket and boarded the Qantas jumbo to see the world. He travelled extensively overseas, and naturally went to all the big events, doing Wembley, Wimbeldon, France ’98, soccer games in Milan, Rio, Buenos Aeries and Boliva. Not to mention hiking in Miucho Pichu in Peru and skiing in Canada, trekking in Alaska and safaring his way down the African continent.
Then midway through 1999 there was a knot in his stomach. For a while he wasn’t sure what it was and just ignored it. But after a while he realised what it was. He’d been away from the Gillon for over 5 years, and the old girl was calling him, asking for the return of the maestro. The club had been through a lot in his time away, falling from A to C Grade, before climbing off the mat to quickly step back up to B-Grade.
Ged played the final few games of 1999, and then hit his straps in 2000, as North finished 3rd in B-Grade. It was now that Ged played with a new generation of NOBs, and he took it upon himself to be the elder statesman, guiding the youngsters. He took a shining to the enigmatic Johar Saad, saying “now that was some guy on some planet. Whether he was kicking the pill into the creek at Whitefriars after marking on the goal line with no opponent in sight, or kicking 70 metre bombs from the centre of Elsternwick Park, he was a freak.”
It was an interesting time for Ged, as he dealt with personalities such as Joe Saad and Frank Dunell. Not to mention his on-going verbal war with long time sparring partner Joey Barker. And with brothers Matt and Chris joining the club, the Phyland name became one of the “big names” at North. The day down at De La in 2001 when he played in the seniors with both Matt and Chris is a cherished memory- “the first time three brothers have played in the IST XV11 at NOBS it is thought. Dad was there to watch which was also great.”
In his final few years it was a mixed bag. Seasons 2000 and 2002 promised a great deal, but the preliminary final losses to Mazenod and Haileybury remain major lowlights in his time in purple & white. Especially as they were seasons when we were capable of more. For Ged in particular 2002 was an opportunity missed as he said the 1st semi win against Mazenod was “a terrific win against quality opposition” and we should have done better against Haileybury. Though despite not returning to A-Grade, there was a number of highlight in these times. He fondly remembers the day at home against Ormond early in 2002, when North found themselves four goals down with just seven minutes to goal. But we steamed home, with Ged kicking the winning goal, a checkside from 40m out, to win the game with just 30 seconds left. Then in his final full year at the club in 2003, unfortunately there were no finals memories, but the victory over Parade at Parade was a special day, as “we were undermanned, but we ensured we avoided relegation to the dreaded C-Grade.”
Ged played with some great players in his time at North, and these are a sample of his “best”;
Tim Jones; awesome centreman, tough, skilled and fast.
Bruno Conti – courageous and a great leader, always perform high level.
Joe Barker – tremendous consistency for a very long time, with limited big man support.
Steve Moloney – highly skilled player in the A Grade days.
Whilst he regarded De La as his best opponents, as “they always give their all and play fair.”
Off field as well Ged loved his time at North. In latter days he was the Social Committee organiser, and was one of the “big names” around the club. Although for obvious reasons the memories of the early 90’s are still strong, and why not when he recounts, “the great Dom Perrone heard to mutter at three in the morning after a big night at the club rooms, with only three blokes left…”If you are good enough you will still pick up”! Not to mention the irrepressible Dennis Fogarty and “his many brilliant performances on the footy trip, on the guitar at balls, auctioning at the Auction or numerous social gatherings, he was and still is a great man!”
Ged has enjoyed the tremendous camaraderie and professionalism of an Amateur club. The top class players, supporters and coaching staff we deal with. He leaves football happy as he played in four grand finals, and also proved he could play at VFL. What’s more he’s satisfied that he was “able to continue to play high standard ISTXV111 (B Grade) footy until late in my career at NOBS! Playing 10 years at NOBS and getting carried off in my last game this year was also a very special part of my career.” Ged enjoyed returning to the club, and says “playing football with a tremendous bunch of younger and older guys since returning from O/S has been a pleasure. Also playing under some great coaches has taught me loads.”
And with his final word, Ged says he loves North Old Boys because of “the people, the players and the atmosphere. It is a club that seems to be getting better every year and has always made me feel at home. And it maintains a professional environment to develop strong teams. It’s off field support is now second to none and we have first class facilities. The supporters are loyal and always stick by you.”
Thank you Ged. You were a big name at North Old Boys. And always will be.
RANDOM THOUGHTS ON GERARD PHYLAND
Said to me consistently over 10 years, prior to every game, and at every break, without fail, irrespective of his or my form on the day- to be delivered in a high pitched tone whilst bouncing on your toes and clapping your hands, with your footy shorts pulled up a tad on the high side.
“we combine well Smooth, I reckon I can cause them a few headaches down forward, look for me when you get it”
An anonymous NOB once received this email from Ged in pre-season 2003. Always upbeat….
“Even though we kicked terribly and didn’t that well I actually thought Sat was an invaluable hit out. Hot conditions and alot of our guys needed the hard run.
I counted 10 quality players unavailable on sat and all will be back by round one/two, so obviously the key is to win these first two as the guys catch up on fitness etc.
Two Barkers, Hyde, Matt Phyland, Martin, Eastaugh, Tim Kennedy, Sam Casboult, Crackers, Marty White (quality player from Geelong league), Sleepy, etc all didn’t play on Sat and all except Joey should be available this week, so we will be stronger than last year I believe but it may take a month or so to get there. If we can win these first two games it would set us up very well, as our list is further strengthened as guys condition up.
Hey I have got to captain the side the last two weeks, something I can always tell the kids down the track!! Will be interesting to see who gets the nod, I was thinking Hydey but not sure?? If I was a chance at a leadership role I think the trip away is going to cruel me as I miss three games!
A brother’s point of view;
One bemusing quote from Gerard sticks out: “Good in Pub – not so good in Yub”…?
What Gerard seems to do when lost for appropriate words is make them up.
And below is a copy of the speech Ged delivered at his Farewell
Office fans may recognise the speech.
“You grow up, you play 100 games, you might get a farewell game and a testimonial (like me), then you rest a couple of years and you’re dead. And the only thing that makes that crazy ride worthwhile is ‘Did I enjoy it? What did I learn? What was the point?’
That’s where I come in. You’ve seen how I react to people, make them feel good, make them think that anything’s possible. If I make them laugh along the way, sue me. And I don’t do it so they turn round and go ‘Thank you Ged for the opportunity, thankyou for the wisdom, thankyou for the laughs.’ I do it so, one day, someone will go ‘There goes Ged Phyland. I must remember to thank him.'”