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AN INTERVIEW WITH AUSSIE

Fred Gisik and Gary Bullivant - Is Laughter The Best (Sports) Medicine?

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

'Sport Trainer Foundation Stones'

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Fred Gisik

Junior Football Committee – 1982

Sports Medicine Trainer – 1994 to current

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Gary Bullivant

Team Statistician 1984 - 1993

Sports Medicine Trainer – 1996 to current

Served on Licensed Club Board since 1982 in various positions.

Jointly, Fred Gisik and Gary Bullivant have spent about 60 years as the foundation stones of the Tigers’ sports trainers’ team, having commenced that role in the 1990s. But some may not be aware that they had both been involved for more than a decade before they strapped their first ankle or rubbed down their first stringy ham. Like many others in the club, they have filled any number of roles over the years. On top of that, they go way back on a personal basis, having gone to school together in the 1960’s (when football boots were black and white, just like the picture on the TV).

 

Fred says he was ‘tricked’ into joining the junior football committee by so-called friends Ron ‘Chook’ Fowlie and Alan ‘Sandy’ McDonald in about 1982, with his son Rod playing in the juniors. His various duties included going to the Fyshwick markets to buy and then distribute the half-time oranges for all the junior teams each week to collecting and compiling the results for the ACTAFL and publication in the Queanbeyan Age newspaper. About that same time, Gary joined the club board as assistant secretary while also volunteering to compile the player stats on game day. Gary remains on the Licensed Club Board to this day, including a quick quarter of a century stint as President from 1993 to 2018. They are two of the many wonderful volunteers who keep the spirit and culture of the club alive, as well as keeping the teams on the field.

 

They are happy to help all and sundry, widely respected and regarded as two of the good guys – at least most of the time (we’ll return to that point later).

 

In the sports trainer’s role, they had a transition/apprenticeship period with two previous long-term incumbents, Alan Jones and Stan Anderson (the Anderson family, including club champion Robert and ‘colourful character’ Ian, being one of the most prominent Tiger families), who were ready to retire at that stage after their own long stints. Gary and Fred have continued that tradition by supporting many others who have come through, developed their skills and later moved on to bigger or other roles, including some who went on to become professional paramedics. In a poignant family loop, one of those to earn their sports trainer stripes with Gary and Fred, Debbie Irwin (then Neely), who was a granddaughter of - Stan Anderson. (They think young Chrissy Craven has ‘nearly finished’ her internship after 15 years or so.) 

 

When asked what would motivate them to volunteer for 40 years, Fred and Gary both respond by saying that the volunteer group and the club as a whole ‘is like a second family’. They enjoy the light-hearted atmosphere of the volunteer group as well as the care they have for each other. The pair state that the volunteers are a ‘seriously good group of people’ who welcome in any newcomers ‘with open arms and open hearts’. 

 

Gary states that the volunteers also get on extremely well with the players and coaches. They share in the successes and setbacks of the teams on the field and take pride that the players ‘make us all part of it’. They love the quote from club patriarch, Alan Muir, which points out that ‘no-one is better than anyone else in this club’.

 

The pair particularly enjoy watching the development of the young players, both as individuals and in football terms, as they come through the ranks, noting that the typical youngster is initially a bit quiet and unsure of themselves in the trainers’ rooms, but as they become more comfortable in the environment they loosen up, join in the banter and maintain the enthusiasm and energy of youth.

 

Gary and Fred are proud of the evolution and expansion of the club over time, but also note the stability of the club that allowed the changes to progress. They have witnessed and been actively involved in significant steps including the establishment of the licensed club and the various enhancements of the facilities at the ground. Significantly, they both cite the establishment and development of the women’s teams as a major development and new chapter, noting the fresh dynamic the women’s teams generate which has brings a welcome addition to the club’s culture.

 

On field, Fred has very fond and proud memories of Rod leading the team out on the SCG to play the Swan’s NEAFL team for his 200th game for the Tigers. The first-grade premierships are, naturally enough, cited as highlights by both stalwarts, with the 2012 NEAFL premiership perhaps the most remarkable. Off the field, they take great pride in the fact that the Tigers seem to have better numbers of volunteers and supporters than other clubs and manage to do so with no payments. They return to the comradery, banter and many humorous highlights that accompany the hard work of the volunteer team, especially on trips for away games.

 

One memorable road trip to Wagga for a practice game featured the afore‑mentioned Alan Muir. Alan was a true gentleman in mixed company but was known to slip into more colourful language in male only settings. Fred, Gary and Chook picked up Alan (also known as Rare‑up) to drive to Wagga and stated the rules for the trip were that any unnecessary or excessive swearing would mean a dollar in the kitty for the after-match drinks. Apparently, Alan owed the kitty $10 before the car turned out of his street. 

 

A short while later, Alan was prompted to call another of the club stalwarts, Wally Thompson, who was travelling in another car. Rare‑up made repeated calls to give Wally a tongue-in-cheek mouthful about some fabricated compliant. Wally however turned the tables on Rare-up by putting the phone on speaker so the whole car, including Wally’s wife, Leslie, could hear. Thinking he was berating only Wally, Alan proceeded to provide a very amusing but colourful lecture. After a minute, a bemused Leslie identified herself and a shocked and embarrassed Alan realised Leslie had heard his comments in all their glory. He tried to apologise profusely, however, it is not clear if anyone ever heard the apology due to the raucous laughter of the other occupants in the car.  

 

During an overnight trip to Sydney, some of the volunteers had enjoyed a few more after dinner drinks than usual at the hotel they were staying in. Later that night, one disoriented individual mistook the room door for the toilet door and found himself locked in the hall in his underwear (busting to empty his bladder). He then proceeded to try to wake up everyone on the floor to get back inside to locate the bathroom. Needless to say, he was the hot topic of conversation and mirth at breakfast the next morning.

 

Another such overnight trip saw Bobby Griffin and Wally Thompson complaining that their hotel room was very hot and uncomfortable. They were at the wits end to know why. While he kept quiet, Fred was pretty sure their discomfort was due to the fact that he, Fred, had ‘accidently’ turned the heating up to maximum while Wally and Bobby were not looking.

There is also the time fellow volunteer ‘Razor’ Ray Daniels purchased some lovely looking candles in Chinatown in Sydney as a gift for popular fellow volunteer, Lisa Bush. Lisa then carted them through several airports (possibly breaking a few terrorist laws) and bus trips for several weeks. Later in the season, when sharing a room with Chrissy Craven, Lisa decided to light one of the candles to add a soothing aroma to a peaceful, luxurious hot bath after a hard day and night’s work at the footy. Lisa and Chrissy were ‘quite surprised’, to put it mildly, when Lisa eventually lit one of the candles only to discover in explosive and alarming fashion, that the ‘candles’ were actually fireworks.

 

With volunteers like this, the club will obviously be in very safe hands for many years to come.

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