NATIMUK United assistant coach Garry Hallam has a had a memorable country football career, and he hasn’t finished with it just yet.
Hallam started off with Horsham United in the Wimmera Football League where he quickly found out what it was like to win a flag.
“I was part of the first under-14s Wimmera Football League premiership,” Hallam said. “It was the first year they had actually included under-14s in the league. Before that they had the Sunday competition.”
Hallam said he played with a number of great players at United, with one clear standout.
“I came up through the ranks at Horsham United and by far the best player I played with was Mal Adams,” he said.
“He had unbelievable skill and you saw him training and knew what you had to do to get to his level.”
Hallam said at the time having three teams in Horsham made for some interesting match-ups.
“United and St Michael’s were kind of vying for that second spot in Horsham behind the Demons,” he said.
“I believe it made Wimmera league stronger because you had all the best players in Horsham going to the league, but now they venture out to the Horsham District league a bit more.”
In 2006 Hallam spent a year at Natimuk before being lured out to Beulah by Adrian Heard to be an assistant coach.
“I spent about four years up there and played in a premiership,” he said.
“The Mallee league was a bit tougher and I realised I wasn’t really as fit as I needed to be but I improved and was best on ground in a premiership, which is a good memory.
“I came back after I had a couple of children and joined the Horsham Saints. I was invited to train with Sandringham in the VFL but I would have had to have moved to Melbourne which I couldn’t do with children.
“If it was earlier on I would have loved to have given it a crack but I spent a few years with the Saints.”
The 2014 and 2015 Wimmera league seasons with the Saints stick out for Hallam.
“In 2014 when we lost at Stawell against Horsham by a goal my grandfather Ron Ridge was on his death bed,” Hallam said.
“He actually made it to the game that day and then he died over Christmas. He was on the sidelines and I could hear him barracking for me – he was always my biggest supporter.
“He was so happy even though we lost. Unfortunately he didn’t get to see me play in the winning one. I didn’t really want to keep playing after that but I did and it made the 2015 premiership very special.
“In my whole career in Wimemra league Horsham always dominated us. To play in that game and dominate them like we did on that day was justice I think.”
Hallam then moved to Geelong for work and found himself swapping between reserves and senior football for Grovedale in the highly respected Geelong Football League.
“The football there was amazing, it’s so fast and you have no time to breathe,” he said.
“We had two ex-AFL players in Luke and Cam Delaney in our side. I won the reserves best and fairest there, which was a bit of a bonus.”
Upon returning to Horsham, Hallam said he wasn’t too keen to keep playing football. He had offered to help out at the Saints but it was his brother-in-law Sam Anson, coach of Natimuk United, who made sure Hallam joined the Rams.
“He was at me for a few months so then I decided to play,” Hallam said.
“I was hesitant because I’ve been pretty selfish in my football life. I’ve always gone to training and done recovery and all that and often been in a leadership role, which adds more time.
“I thought I’d had my time and thought I should take a bit more of a back seat. Tahli my wife coaches C Grade at Natimuk United and she doesn’t like me being too vocal court-side.”
Hallam said he was enjoying coaching alongside Anson and was taking his career one season at a time.
“I’m enjoying coaching with him and I hope he is too,” he said.
“I’ll reevaluate at the end of the year but I still enjoy getting out there and playing. I probably wouldn’t look at coaching from the sidelines at the moment.
“Out on the field it’s a completely different feeling and I’d rather be out there.”