RECORD FEATURE: GRIFFITH SWANS
“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” Cesare Pavese.
An Italian poet, Cesare Pavese’s quote probably wasn’t about football. The thing is though, it could’ve been.
Because football is about moments, as Griffith Swans coach Adrian Pavese well knows.
Like the moment two weeks ago when Guy Orton took off from a centre clearance, sprinted towards the 50m line and launched a long bomb that carried, just, above the fingertips of the Coolamon defenders for a goal, to break the deadlock against the Hoppers.
Or even, on a different level, the moment Pavese decided this was the year to fulfil a dream – first his father’s and now his own – that he might come back and coach his home club one day.
“It was more personal reasons I came back, after losing my father,” Pavese said.
“If I can contribute with the footy club while I’m here, while I’m supporting my mother and my family, I’m happy to do that.
“It’s the club I grew up at and I started coaching under 11s way back in 1991. It’s a club I’m very passionate about and a dream obviously to coach my home club.”
Swans president Jeff Harris says it was ideal for the club to be able to pick up a coach with the experience of Pavese. Timing and circumstance worked in their favour.
In other words, it was the right moment.
“I think it’s something that’s always nagged at him to come and, in a way, show people what he’s achieved as a coach,” Harris said.
“He’s certainly made a good career out of it and coached at some pretty good levels so, yeah, a fantastic opportunity to have a guy like that back at the club.
“We’ve been working pretty hard over the last few years to get the club set up the way we want and get the right cultures in place. That’s not something that happens overnight but the opportunity to have Adrian back at the club was a very important part of that. He’s been instrumental in driving the culture home.
“He’s been around footy clubs a hell of a lot so, knowing how to set those things in place and just putting the polish on the things we’re trying to do and make sure it’s really bedded in. I think it sets us up well for quite a few years to come hopefully.”
Moments make the memories but days are still important.
In fact there are few more significant at the Swans than Pink Day, which the club is celebrating as it hosts Collingullie-Glenfield Park this round.
It highlights what Harris means about setting the club up the way they want.
“We’ve raised considerable money over the years for breast cancer – we’ve generally managed to give between $5000 and $7000 back to the Griffith breast cancer support group which is obviously well-utilised in our own little community so it’s good to give something back,” Harris said, highlighting that the Swans’ role in the broader community is something the club has made a point of focussing on.
“It’s something I’ve been very proud of since I’ve been involved,” he said.
“The club’s got a good history of it and it’s something I think we’re still doing incredibly well.
“We do Pink Day and we’ve done little individual things for local families that aren’t necessarily involved in the footy club but have found themselves in unfortunate circumstances.
“Some of that’s been driven by the playing group itself, which makes you fairly proud.”
Guy Orton is another for whom the timing was right to return to a club he has previously coached. (In the pre-season, Pavese said the ‘stars had aligned’ to bring about Orton’s return – akin to a moment of magic).
The Jim Quinn Medallist believes he’s back at a club in good shape with the addition of some experience players from Canberra clubs during his absence and depth in the lower grades.
“We’re pushing forward as a club, we’ve got the 18s and the reserves really pushing and weve got some young kids coming through and really pushing for senior spots so it’s good,” Orton says.
“It was great to come back to the club. I call it home.”
For Harris, the fact that Orton wanted to return was testament to what the Swans want to create and affirmation that they’re going the right way about it.
Pavese agrees and says they’re not alone. He believes every club in the Riverina is working on similar principles of creating good cultures and, when bringing in footballers, finding quality people not just quality players. And that – along with an extremely even competition – has helped enhance the reputation of the leagues too.
It’s what helped encourage Will Griggs and Ben King and Sam Daniel to leave Queanbeyan Tigers and move to Griffith last year, and to have Jordan Iudica and Alex Birch travelling from Canberra each week this season.
“The club was already talking to the two Canberra boys and they rang me and said, ‘What do you think of these two guys?’” Pavese recalls.
“I said, ‘They’re ripping guys and they’ll invest in the club and they’ll put back into the club’. And that’s where the Queanbeyan boys have been good because they’ve actually moved to town and they’re investing in the community. That’s what you want and hopefully their footy complements them being at the club.”
Griggs is now an assistant coach, along with Swans stalwart Mick Duncan, and taking training early in the week under guidance from Pavese whose title is director of coaching.
Harris says the club is happy with the different coaching structure.
“it’s giving some of the other guys in the club a chance to have their input and to follow those roles and keep on developing them as players and future leaders of the club, particularly guys like Will Griggs and with the experience of Guy Orton and those sort of guys. It’s good to be able to get that collective input,” Harris says.
Now it’s just a matter of putting it together in the hope of producing the magic that will inspire happy memories for the days, months and years to come.