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AN INTERVIEW WITH AUSSIE

Jill Bright, A Mum to Many Tigers

 

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

Always Look On The Bright Side (any Tigers side)

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Jill Bright

Assists with fundraising activities each week for the Junior Club

Operates the scoreboard at home game since 1979

Produced Tigers Yearbook since late seventies

First Lady to be included in the Tigers Wall of Fame

Tigerettes Best and Fairest named the Jill Bright Medal

Associate Member of the Tigers prestigious 100 Club

Scoreboard named the Jill Bright Scoreboard

Awarded Life membership – 2007

Jill Bright (nee Freebody) says it was her friend Maureen Byrne who first talked her into watching the Queanbeyan Tigers at the Queanbeyan Town Park Oval in the 1950s. Maureen was the niece of Tigers Wall of Famer, Harold Williams, but she was apparently much keener on watching one of the handsome young players than her uncle. Soon after, Jill and Maureen had been ‘roped into carrying the blanket around the ground’ to collect money from the spectators - as there was (and still is) no gate at the Town Park ground.

 

Around this time, while working at the Attorney General’s Department, Jill met Alan Bright, who happened to play for Ainslie, and a romance ensued. A few years later, when Jill and Alan were married, she told him he couldn’t stay with Ainslie, so he made the move to Queanbeyan. This was the early stages of a what has become a lifelong involvement with Tigers. Alan played for the Queanbeyan/Turner combine side for several years as well as attending meetings and helping with the occasional fund raiser for the club, with a view to eventually building a club house.

 

The Bright family’s off-field contribution certainly ramped up in 1975, when they struck up a friendship with a young character by the name of Ricci Cragg, at the nearby Pollards butcher shop. Ricci was a very persuasive character who talked the Bright family, now including a young Nicole, into helping to manage the junior team he was coaching.

 

When the Tigers senior teams moved to Margaret Donohoe Sportsground in 1980, Ricci again used his ‘gift of the gab’ to make an ‘offer too good to refuse’, and the Bright family was managing the scoreboard at the new ground.

The ‘offer’ was a pie and a cup of coffee - between them - but it obviously did the trick, as Jill and Nicole are still looking after the scoreboard more than four decades later.

 

Another long-term Tigers supporter, friend and colourful character, Annie Moore, joined in. Annie also provided a thermos of tea and a basket full of cakes and slices to help them all get through a long day nestled in the often-chilly scoreboard. In the early period of the licensed club, Alan also spent 5 years as the volunteer doorman on Friday and Saturday nights. 

 

In 2012, there was a revolution when the scoreboard went ‘electronic’, and Jill and Nicole got to watch the football from the other side of the ground.

 

Nicole had grown up with the Tigers and took on the role of Secretary of the junior club for 9 years while also helping to compile the game day stats for the first grade, along with Gary Bullivant and good friend Karen McClure. The family were also involved in a variety of other club activities, such as spending hours preparing the banners for the teams to run through on Grand Final day. They recall one year (2007) when the majority of the Junior and Senior teams were in their respective Grand Finals – great for the club but hard work for the team producing banners for 10 or 11 teams.

 

The Brights have supported the junior club for the last 25 to 30 years. Partnering with Scott Taylor, they sponsor the team Scott is coaching each year and part of the sponsorship is a chocolate cake incentive program.  If the team wins 3 games in a row, they are rewarded with a chocolate cake (although I think there may be various other reasons for chocolate cakes to be produced as well). 

 

This involvement with the junior teams has allowed Nicole to become a bit of an unofficial talent scout, and she has taken great pleasure in the football career progression of many players including, from the boy’s teams, Renee Ioppi, Kaine Stevens, Josh Fahey and Dayne Posthuma, along with players on the rise in the junior girls’ program such as Emily Vosnakes, Lyla Wescombe, Hunter Clifton and Ava Dixon. 

 

Jill is also an unofficial football interrogator. She is happy to chase down and torture a new player until they reveal where they are from, what position they play, who they are related to and how they joined the Tigers - and then pass on the information to the rest of the volunteer and supporter group as required.

 

Off field highlights they recall include a mature Annie Moore running on to the field at Philip oval when Ben ‘Spanner’ Jovanovic kicked his 100th goal for the season, the day at Stirling oval (which was miserable and windswept on a good day) when the falling snow made it hard to watch the game let alone compile the stats, the mock wedding that featured some pretty ugly men in drag, a priest with a very poor memory of the wedding vows, and which attracted some intoxicated and bewildered passers-by yelling at the wedding party that ‘surely you could have at least ironed your clothes for a wedding’.

 

In hindsight, it was probably also a good thing that, after Alan Muir had dared Jill to ‘streak’ on to the field to celebrate Michael Niesen’s 12th goal in one particular game at Greenway, Brian Quade managed to convince her to keep her clothes on.

 

Like many others, when asked why they have remained involved for so long, Jill and Nicole answer with ‘because the people are like family’ and cite the quote from Alan Muir espousing the equity in the club in that ‘non-one is better than anyone else’. However, for a variety of reasons, Jill and Nicole have struck up special relationships with particular players over the years. Many of these players have become friends for life and the mother and daughter combination still keep in touch with and support many of their favourites – including the likes of Butch Hemming, Brett Schmidt, Robert ‘Squizzy’ Taylor, Jim Woods, Terry ‘Swampy’ Smith, Allan Mapleson, Robert Anderson, Troy Gray, Ben ‘Spanner’ Jovanovic, Mark Blundell, Chris Davis, Paul Williams, Steve Brand, Brett Nolte, Paul Briedis, Daniel ‘Piggy’ Campbell and Will Griggs.

 

However, Jill and Nicole have taken their playing favourites to a very dangerous level. They have conducted an ‘extra incentive program’ - but only for the star forwards! It is a simple system - kick 5 goals and get a block of chocolate. (Note - midfielders, defenders, and other forwards – you’re on your own.)

 

As if the forwards weren’t ‘hungry’ enough already, the chosen few have had an extra inducement to ignore their teammates in a better position and try to kick impossible goals. Allan Mapleson, Michael Niesen, Mark Armstrong, Paul Williams, Neil Irwin, Andrew Swann, and Piggy Campbell were all tainted by this highly dubious scheme. Rumour has it that this discriminatory ‘motivational program’ continues to this day. There should be an ICAC inquiry.

 

Perhaps, if we choose to look on the “bright” side, we can forgive such a gross misdemeanour and appreciate the great contribution and support from the Bright family over so many years. 

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