Gareth Allen opens up on his sporting life in Under the Auld Pump

August 18, 20200

by Tim Auld, The Standard, AUGUST 18 2020 – 12:58PM

Born: Macarthur on May 23, 1969.

Wife: Shane. Children: Tessa, Sam, Hugh and Zac.

Parents: Lyall and Sylvia. Sibling: Wes.

Education: Macarthur Primary School before going to Hawkesdale High School.

Sporting highlights: Playing in football premierships with Spotswood in 1993, Port Fairy’s reserves in 1994 and then Russells Creek in 1998 and 2000.

Gareth, I note you were born at Macarthur but played in a premiership with Spotswood in the old Footscray District Football League competition. How did it come about, the move from the western district to the western suburbs of Melbourne?

I wanted to be an apprentice plumber but before Port Fairy’s Trevor Moody would sign my apprenticeship papers he said I had to go and work in the trenches at the Woodend sewer scheme.

We worked long hours and it was tough work. I met a few blokes there and they were connected with the Spotswood Football Club.

After I finished work in the trenches, Trevor signed me up as an apprentice plumber. I worked for him for a few years.

My future wife Shane was doing her final year of studies for a science degree at the Melbourne University, so we moved to Melbourne and I started playing footy with Spotswood.

I played there for two seasons and started my own plumbing business down there. Spotswood defeated Seddon to win the 1993 flag. It was an encounter.

Drew Pevitt and Barry Stevens, who both played footy in the Hampden league, also played in the grand final victory.

The funny thing about playing for Spotswood back in that era is there were only one or two players that never had tattoos, and I was one of them.

I came back and played in Port Fairy’s reserves premiership side in 1994.

We had some good players including Shane Bell, Dean Dwyer, Darren Barker, Andrew Chow while Gerard Sully was the coach.

A few of my mates Paul McNamara, Danny Lane and Damon Lockett decided to join Russells Creek for the 1996 season and I joined them. Brendan Broadbent was the coach at Creek.

We won the flag in 1998 when we defeated Panmure who were coached by Bernie Harris.

I also played in Creek’s premiership side in 2000. We beat Deakin University.

I had a few seasons away from footy after the 2000 victory to help with our young children.

I coached Port Fairy’s reserves side in 2003 and 2004. I then had a few more years off before joining the Port Fairy Football Netball Club in 2015.

What role did you take on at the footy club in 2015?

My wife Shane and I took over as the co-ordinators of the Auskick program for the club. The program was designed for children aged between 8-12.

We had nearly 100 children involved in the program over three years.

It was great fun watching young children getting out there to have a kick and a laugh with their mates and in-between it they learnt some footy skills.

I helped out with the umpiring in the under 10s and under 12s for a few years before getting involved in other roles with the club.

I was the sponsorship co-ordinator for two years and was the vice-president in 2019, and this year I’ve been the list manger for the club.

Having been involved with senior roles – how is the club progressing?

We’re in a pretty good spot. We’re lucky to have a strong committee and a great bunch of volunteers that help out.

The club forecasts a lot of growth in the future. We’ve got big numbers of juniors coming through the ranks.

It was disappointing to see next year’s Port Fairy Folk Festival had to be abandoned due to the virus. The club understands fully the reasons why the event has been abandoned.

The news will have a massive impact in Port Fairy and across the district because the Port Fairy Folk Festival is such a great supporter of so many community groups including the football-netball club.

What’s the future plans for the club?

The main focus is on developing our junior base.

We’ve got a lot of junior footballers and netballers coming through the ranks.

It’s a very exciting time to be involved with the club.

The club is in discussions with the Moyne Shire and other groups about the new master plan for the Gardens Oval. They’re looking at developing it into a real sports precinct.

Things including indoor netball courts, new changerooms and possibly an extra footy ground are on the drawing board.

The town of Port Fairy is growing all the time. Moyne Shire understandings facilities need to be improved and developed at the Gardens Oval.

It appears there’s still a few stages to go before the green light is given for the developments but it’s exciting to see the things that are going on behind the scenes.

The big-picture plan is to make the area a multi-function facility to be used by various groups including schools, locals, visitors to the caravan park and of course the footy and netball clubs.

Gareth, have you been involved with any other sporting clubs in Port Fairy?

I’ve played a bit of cricket starting off in the juniors before playing seniors with Port Fairy. I played senior cricket in 1986-87 for the club.

My brother Wes and top local cricketer Steven Gibb were also in the side.

One of my highlights is playing cricket with my son Sam in division three.

I joined the surf club in 1990 and rode the surf boat as part of the shearwater crew with Greg Dalton, Scott Hetherington, Dean Dwyer and Howard Sharp.

Port Fairy offers a great lifestyle. Our children are involved in various sports in the town.

My wife Shane and I both understand how good the town is, and that’s why our plumbing business is involved with sponsorship.

We fully understand how businesses have to give back to the local community.

We’ve been in business in the town since 1994. It’s amazing to know that our business has given 11 apprentice plumbers the chance to start their careers in that time.

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