Viva our Volunteers
This week is National Volunteers week and here at the Uni Blues we are lucky enough to have a small band of extraordinary volunteers who ensure that we as a Club are able to give over 100 young men a game of football every weekend. During the week, Blues Brief caught up with former Chris Brown award winner and one of the Club’s most hard working volunteers, Tony Simmons, to try and find out what makes him tick. Below is just a sample of some of the fine conversation that was had with big Tone.
Blues Brief: Thanks very much for your time Tony. You know we all love you down here at the Blues, but can you tell us how you found your way down to help out around the place?
Tony Simmons: Well back in 2011, I found I had a bit of extra time on my hands and so felt the urge to be involved with the Uni Blues again. I bet you didn’t know that I actually did a preseason back in the 1990s! You see I ended up retired as a player at St Kevin’s in C-Grade after about 100 games over about 10 years after attending St Kevin’s College. Â However, I always wanted to play A-Grade amateurs and specifically at the University Blues. My favourite colour is blue, I barrack for the Carlton Blues and both Blues have the same theme song.
Anyway I came back to the Uni Blues after asking Neil Turner one night at PP1 who was training. He said the Uni Blues and invited me down. In hindsight, I was glad I took up that invitation from that trouper a quiet achieving talent scout for prospective volunteers. Plus Neil shouts me way too often on Thursday nights of the top tucker that Tony Mc & the Boys kindly supply.
BB: So we have another great volunteer, Neil Turner, to thank for getting you back down to the club?
TS: Yes, I guess you can say that.
BB: In your time watching the Blues, both the Navy and Uni variety, who is the best player you have seen at both clubs?
TS: I could say Ross Young since he played outstandingly for both clubs. However, I never saw him play at the Navy Blues! But definitely Ross Young at the Uni Blues for sure. Modest, a fine leader with a raspy voice that needs a darn good cough to clear, a stocky / bullocky ball player who runs all day. His preparation and determination are always terrific. I love it how he swats away taggers like flies.
At the Navy Blues I would have to say Chris Judd. An inspirational leader with exceptional skills and has more presence on the field than what’s under the Myer Christmas tree. Both players don’t know what the word receiver means, stars on-and off-the field.
However the best player at the Navy Blues in a past era would have to be Tom Simmons. Did you know my Dad played with Carlton? I never saw him play but have read many newspaper clippings, sporting articles and spoken to his contemporaries from 1948 and 1949 era. He played 27 games for 23 goals. He wore #2. Â He was a champion footballer cut down in his prime by a knee injury. You can see that I am a proud son.
BB: That is great stuff. Keeping on the topic of Carlton, do you think that Mick Malthouse will coach out the season?
TS: Mick Malthouse is a proven fighter; never a quitter. He will see out the season; that is his character. I believe Stephen Trigg and Mark LoGiudice when they say that a decision about Mick’s coaching contract will not be decided until the end of the season. Stephen may have the Trigg-er available to pull but Mick has the safety catch on or else his finger isÂ jammed inÂ the wayâ€¦but that metaphor is starting to get mixed.
BB: Ok, fair enough. Now Tone I understand that you have spent many years working in bookstores, who is the most interesting/famous person that you have served over those years?
TS: Barry Humphries came in one late Sunday night and I was serving at the middle registers in Borders, South Yarra. I was very nervous; since I figured if I stuffed up he would use me as material or cut me down with his rapier wit just like Dame Edna Everidge. He wanted a book on wisteria which was nearby in the garden section. He then looked down at a flyer for a store event for that music group “The Whitlams” and asked “You mean Gough and Margaret …?”
BB: Was life always that interesting at Borders?
TS: Like most of life, 80% boredom and 20% action! But at Christmas time where most of the trade makes its money, it can be manic bedlam with customer fatigue and stress.
BB: Do you have a favourite book then?
TS: “Black & Blue: the history of University Football”. Either that, or “Lord Minimus: the Extraordinary Life of Britain’s Smallest Man” by Nick Page – literally a pint-sized historical figure who only grew to 18” tall at his full height. Remarkable.
BB: Righto, moving on. What would you say is the hardest part of your role at the Blues?
TS: Trying to resist the urge to rip off the orange water shirt and toss away the green bottle and run onto the field and call for the ball.
Other things that are a bit tough are trying to sweep up tape that is stuck to the floor, trying to tighten, straighten and pull up the wheels and rolling in that damn stubborn scoreboard under the old wooden stand after a home game. Special mention to Neil Turner and Julian Mitchell (pictured) since they provide all the manpower, elbow grease and grunt while I oversee as the self-appointed OH & S Officer.
BB: Finally Tony, if you were able to, what advice would the Tony of today give Tony of 10 years ago?
TS: That is an easy one. Time flies when you are having fun. Call your mother. You rest; you rust; use it or lose it. Balance mind, body and soul. Network and connect with others. Reach out to others and forget self. Get the helpers high from volunteering. There is always someone worse off than you. You never know what the future may bring. Accept the highs and the lows of life. Makes friends with people of all ages. Be passionate. Make things happen. Mistakes are a stepping stone to success. Persist. Persevere. Pray.
BB: Well Tone that is some serious advice there. Thanks once again for sparing the time to have a chat and a big thanks for all the work you do around our wonderful club. We are definitely a better place because of what you do.