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AN INTERVIEW WITH AUSSIE

Brian Quade - The Quade Legacy

​​Presented by Tiger champion, Tony 'Aussie' Wynd

'Coach and Club Leader'

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Brian Quade

1st Grade Coach 1984 – 1993 (Inclusive)

1st Grade Coaching Premierships – 1985, 1988, 1989, 1991

1st Grade Coaching Grand Finals – 1986, 1987, 1990, 1992

Assisted Tigers Coaching Panel 1997

It would be hard to over-emphasise the impact that Brian Quade had on the Queanbeyan Tigers Football Club during his decade as coach. A simple statement that he was senior coach from 1984 to 1993, leading the team to 8 successive Grand Finals for 4 premierships, is impressive enough. However, his influence was greater than those statistics and achievements.

 

He was a key architect in the development of the culture and standards for the club that changed the expectations of success within the club which remains part of the club’s ethos to the current day.

But it might all have been very different if it wasn’t for,

 

  • Brian being asked to apply for a job he already had; and

  • His suggestion for a slight change to the timing of events at the Licensed Club.

 

Shortly after the 1983 ACTAFL season, Brian was reading the Canberra Times sports section when he noticed an advertisement for applications for the Manuka Football Club senior coaching position. He thought that was bit odd because, as far as he knew, he was the senior coach at Manuka, and he was pretty sure (about 100% certain) he hadn’t resigned from the role. He had Captain-Coached Manuka to a premiership in 1981 and the team had finished third in 1983. A few days later, one of the Manuka committee members asked him to apply for the position he had held for the previous 4 years, but he politely declined.

Soon after, he got a phone call informing him that the Queanbeyan senior coaching role was available, and he did apply. After speaking with Chook Fowlie and Dave Imrie which led to a formal interview with a panel of committee members, Brian was appointed to the job and - a magnificent success story followed.

Brian recalled, ‘Just playing against the Tigers, you had a sense that Queanbeyan was like my original club at East Wagga - a good country club. I knew some of the players from the ACT representative team and just had the feeling it would be easy to make the transition. Still, it was a big move at the time for the Tigers to go with a non-playing coach.’

He liked the set-up at the club and thought there was a fairly good group of players. He was impressed by the attitude of the playing group. ‘Everybody was keen to succeed, it had a family atmosphere where everyone looked after each other. We built on that approach’.

Brian did have an initial concern, though, that the players might be ‘a bunch of smart-arses’. After the first training session for the 1984 season, Brian had offered to spend one-on-one time with any players who wanted to work on any specific elements of their game. When the first player to approach him after training for some extra kicking work was Tony Wynd, who had been awarded the Mulrooney medal a few months earlier, Brian warily thought it may have been some sort of a set up or prank, but the request was genuine.

His assessment of the senior team was that it could benefit from an injection of pace, so he sought to target leg speed with the younger players and recruiting, with the likes of Michael Kennedy, Steven West, Richard Burge and Peter Sculley being added to the team over the next couple of years to great effect. He also knew first-hand that it was already hard for the other teams to come over the border and win, so he outlined a plan to the players to make the Margaret Donoghue oval a fortress for the Tigers and a graveyard for the opposition, which also rapidly came to fruition.

While he was focussed on improving the standard of training, he worked to ensure the training drills were short and sharp to keep the players interested and thinking. Brian also made sure the club got the most out of the three nights per week training program, with each night having a clear and different focus. Monday nights were focused on recovery and rehabilitation, and he could gauge the injury status of players in preparation for the following week. There was also a social element, with the injured players who could not train assigned the task of walking over to the Karabar supermarket to buy a few beers to accompany a sausage sizzle, leftovers from the canteen, and/or out-of-date potato chips during a discussion about the game and reliving any humorous anecdotes from the Sunday night disco. (Recovery protocols were a bit different at the time.)

It was during this period that coach Quade faced one of his more unusual dilemmas. The team’s full-forward, Brian ‘Butch’ Hemming explained that he couldn’t train any more on Wednesday nights – the main training session for the week. Quadey pointed out that if that was the case then Butch could not be picked to play seniors. Hemming continued to plead his case, exclaiming ‘but Quadey the lucky badge draw at the club is over $1,000 and I have to be there in case my number is drawn.’ After some careful contemplation, the exasperated coach approached the licensed club Secretary, Gary Bullivant, who was eventually convinced of the mutual benefits in delaying the lucky badge draw until later in the evening. Crisis averted, Butch continued to train on Wednesdays even if he occasionally missed the showers on his way to the lucky badge draw.

Quadey was interested in new angles or elements to improve the performance of the team, and this included the introduction of a sports psychologist. Brian Miller was an Englishman working at the AIS sports psychology department and had worked with the Australian, Canadian and British Olympic teams. Miller introduced several innovations to the Tigers’ match preparations, while also providing the coach with some new concepts and approaches for training and game day.

Some key suggestions emerged at grand final time in 1985, with some plans invoked to put their opponents off their game. These included;

  • the Tigers players running over to stand very close to and watch their Ainslie opponents during Ainslie’s warm-up routine to ‘invade their space and their mind’,

  • the Tigers keeping their opponents guessing regarding the make-up of the team by running out all members of the squad, including Doug Daniel, who had spitefully and controversially had his skull fractured by the Ainslie captain coach earlier in the season,

  • Brian Miller standing alongside the Ainslie huddle at three-quarter time, talking into a transistor radio (as though it was a walkie talkie) pretending to relay messages back to the Tigers camp. This worked a treat as the Ainslie staff and supporters caused a great ruckus in trying to ward off the interloper but succeeded only in further distracting the Ainslie coach and team.

However, there was one of the psychologist’s suggestions did not come to fruition. During a team meeting in the week leading up to the grand final, Miller’s suggested was for the players keep their warm-up jackets on until right before the opening siren, to hide the full bloom rose which they would present to their opponent as the game was about to start. However, big, robust centre half-forward, Leo Lucas, who happened to be both a traditional country type and the coach’s nephew, was adamant he was ‘not giving a flower to any footballer’ (or words very clearly to that effect). As it was an ‘all in’ or ‘all out’ proposition – there were no roses on the ground that day.

Quadey also says he learnt an important lesson from the 1986 and 1987 finals when ‘we spent preliminary final week focussed on the other teams and not ourselves. We all got too nervous. In ‘87 we had the most talented side in my time at the club and we should have won the grand final, but we didn’t. I learnt both that we needed a better mix of inside and outside players and, if we won the second semi-final in future, we needed to focus on us, not the opposition.’

Fortunately, both those issues were addressed the next season with, after a large turnover of players, the forced introduction of younger and different individuals with a strong focus on contested ball including Brett Schmidt, Gerard Johnson, Tim Wynd and Steve Vizy. Then, second semi-final wins for the next two years saw the Tigers on a training trip away/camp on preliminary final weekend which achieved its aims of freshening up the players and providing a distraction from the other teams. The record books show successful outcomes on grand final day in 1988 and 1989.

For a variety of reasons, Brian always liked to bring younger players into the team each year. ‘I believe it is good to blood the talented younger players at 17 and 18, especially when they could learn from and be protected by the more experienced players. It fast tracks their development and helps them become good senior players quicker.’ The down side of that philosophy was the challenge of occasionally needing to have a tough conversation with an older player to suggest that they consider retirement to allow room for a younger player. This ‘was one of the hardest things you had to do as a coach’.

There was an added bonus for the club in appointing Brian as head coach. Brian has 14 older siblings and football was an integral part of Quade family life, which presented an extra avenue for recruiting. In addition to his three sons, Sam, Dane and Ryan, playing with the club, there has been a number of nephews, nieces, (grand and otherwise) play for the Tigers, with many playing in premiership teams. As a father, Brian took great pride in Ryan captaining the Tigers’ 2012 premiership team. “I was pleased and proud of what Ryan and the team had accomplished, but equally proud of the way he carried himself as captain’.

Brian also reflects that he was very grateful that the club allowed him to continue to coach the ACT representative side whist with the Tigers. ‘There were some good times and challenging games’ he said. ‘In my time with the Rep side we managed to win the Fosters shield (competition between ACT, Qld, NSW and Tasmania), play at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane and the Bicentennial Carnival in Adelaide, as well as managing to get a few more Queanbeyan players in the side.’

There was also the occasional challenge in the representative environment. In the lead up to a game against Queensland, Phil Carmen, the ex-VFL star was then the captain/coach of Eastlake (and ‘the best football athlete I ever saw’). Carmen spent the week oscillating between ‘I am only 70% fit and probably can’t play’, and then ‘no, I’m right to go’. Fabulous Phil eventually made the trip to Brisbane only to approach the coach on the morning of the game, saying that he had a ‘bad back’ and did not want to play. Not really hiding his frustration, the coach replied that there were no emergencies on the trip and even with a bad back, Carmen would need to do his best. In living up to his brilliant-but-erratic reputation, Fabulous Phil kicked seven goals in a best-on-ground display. Only an hour or two after the game, after yelling at a passing patrol car, Carmen was accommodated for the rest of the night as a guest of the Queensland police department.

Brian recollects that during his time as coach of the Tigers ‘we had more success than we could have hoped for. They were great times on and off the field’. He is proud that he helped to set the foundations and benchmarks that have contributed to the success of the club. He is also pleased that he helped to foster ‘a club that people want to be part of’ and grateful for the support and advice he received from within the club. He recollects the discussions, both serious and humorous, with the likes of Alan Muir and many others over the years, as well as the generously offered free coaching advice from passionate supporters such as Frank Innaimo and Doug Daniel Senior.

‘Overall, it was a very a good ride – an unbelievable time for 10 years’, he stated. ‘The Tigers are an important part of the community. People are always welcomed into the club, and everyone contributes. I have never seen a volunteer base like that at the Tigers’. He also reflects that Queanbeyan didn’t have as much money as some of the other clubs but noted that ‘it was not about how much you paid them but the quality of the players and the club spirit at Queanbeyan that you could build on’.

The drought-breaking 1985 premiership is probably his favourite memory, recalling the joy and happiness it brought to so many people involved with the club, many of whom had never before seen the Tigers win a Grand Final.

Brian says, ‘in the end, we are all just moving through’ and the time always comes for new people to take the reins. This is inevitably so, but it is also true that Brian Quade has played a hugely significant role in the evolution and success of the Queanbeyan Tigers football club.

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