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AN INTERVIEW WITH AUSSIE

Kev Campbell #16 - Love of the Game

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

How Ken Confused His Careers Advisor

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Ken Campbell

Queanbeyan Tigers Junior

1st Grade Games – 100 (Total Games 101)

First Senior Grade Game at age 17

1st Grade Assistant Coach – 2005, 2006.

 Coach of ACT Under 16 Development Squads

Coach of ACT Schoolboys Under 16 Representative Team for 10 Years

Ken Campbell has seen the Tigers senior team play every year since the late 1950s. He is one of a select few whose commitment and enthusiasm would allow them to make such a statement (although it is a remarkable thought that he is not alone).

A young Ken grew up watching the likes of the Wheeler brothers, the Schow brothers, the Williams brothers, the Muir brothers, Bobby Griffin, Jim Bradshaw, and others play for the Tigers at the Queanbeyan Park. Bill Gadd was another prominent player of that period, who later became Ken’s brother-in-law. He remembers (circa 1959-61) the big huddles at ¾ time with coach, Keith Schow, giving instruction or inspiration individually to each and every player whilst puffing on a cigarette and some of the players were swigging sherry.

During this period, a Tigers supporter would regularly go to Walsh’s and Tourist Hotels to update the state of the game for the Saturday afternoon clientele. If scores were close at ¾ time, the crowd numbers would swell as patrons swapped the bar for the boundary line of the Queanbeyan Park to barrack for a Tiger’s victory. Ken says, ‘I can still recall the crowd noise, the atmosphere, the smell of the liniment. The excitement was fantastic, and the Tigers were famous for their 4th quarter comebacks.’

Ken Campbell has had a life-long love of the game, as a player, coach and keen student ever since. While Ken played junior football with the Tigers and then went on to play 100 senior games with the club, his introduction to the game only came after a misunderstanding by his father, Kenneth Snr. (It is a Scottish tradition to name the first son after the father.)

The Campbell family had migrated from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Queanbeyan in 1955 and a couple of years later, Kenneth Snr saw a notice in the local newspaper, the Queanbeyan Age, calling for players to register for the Tigers junior football club. Kenneth Snr duly went along to sign up young Ken, all the while thinking (with his Scottish background) that his son was set to play soccer. 

Once he realised that young Ken had been registered for a different game to the one had grown up with on the other side of the planet, Kenneth Snr went along to watch a senior Tigers game to get a feel for this ‘Aussie Rules’ football. Apparently, the first thing Kenneth Snr saw was Alan Muir taking a very high mark, and he quickly thought to himself, ‘this definitely isn’t soccer’.

From then on, the Tigers became a part of life for the Campbell family, with Kenneth Snr later coaching many junior teams as well as serving on the committee and as president for both the junior and senior clubs. In addition, Ken’s mum, Agnes, was active in the junior club and on the ladies’ committee for many years with her contribution recognised through Life Membership of the Senior Club in 1976. Ken recalls that ‘involvement with the Tigers helped to make us feel part of the community which was an important consideration at that time for our family and other migrant families from Britain and Europe.’

Ken played his first senior game as a 17-year-old during the Turner/Queanbeyan era in the late 1960s. It was the realisation of a childhood dream. In that period, the team would train at Queanbeyan Park on Tuesdays and O’Connor Oval on Thursdays and wore jumpers with blue and white hoops with a large yellow Q. By 1969, the Tigers went back to a stand-alone club and Ken was especially pleased to be wearing the Tigers’ yellow and black jumper that he had admired in action in those heady earlier days.

When Ken says, ‘As a kid, all I ever wanted to do was play senior football for the Tigers,’ he is not kidding. He recounts that when he was at Queanbeyan High School, the newly appointed careers advisor asked him ‘What is your ambition when you leave school?’. Ken’s reply was simple – ‘To play for the Queanbeyan Tigers.’  After considering that response for a few moments the careers advisor rephrased the question and asked, ‘Ok, but how would you like to earn a living ?’

Ken duly went on to study Social Sciences at ANU, before commencing his career in the Public Service with the Department of Defence.

Ken played for the Tigers through the late 60s and early 70s, playing with storied Tiger names such as Jim Black, Ron, Dennis and Brian Hopkins, Col and Alan Imrie, Max Gibbs, Col Wheeler, Marion Borowski and Renato Res. He recalls that these were mostly hard days for the club, but there were small but significant turning points along the way, such as the win over Manuka in 1975 which was the first victory over the Bullants in 14 seasons. ‘In those days Eastlake, Ainslie and Manuka each had up to 5 or 6 former VFL players in their teams. The other clubs struggled to compete. And there is no doubt that the Tigers would have “gone under” without the establishment of the Tigers Licensed Club’.

Unfortunately, amongst the growing pains of the time, in early 1977, Ken had concerns with some of the decisions of the club committee in relation to recruitment. He opted to retire, but subsequently transferred to Ainslie as he worked with some of the Ainslie officials. He was not aware at the time that the Tigers were keen to recruit a player from the Tricolours and, before he knew it, he was part of what the Canberra Times labelled a ‘player swap’ between the two clubs.

Ken played two years with Ainslie and, while he was warmly welcomed by all and enjoyed his time there, he noted that there was a ‘different atmosphere and it was difficult settling into a new club’. He was disappointed in how the transfer had unfolded and that he was no longer playing with Queanbeyan. To make matters worse, his first game with his new club was an away game against … the Tigers. He recalls that the home crowd ‘was not too kind that day’.

After his stint at Ainslie, Ken concentrated on his other sporting passion, basketball, where he had a long and successful playing and coaching career, playing Division 1 basketball for 10 years and Masters basketball for 20 years including Australian Masters games on numerous occasions. Ken still catches up weekly for lunch with a group of mates from his basketball days.

In 1979, with his wife, Sue, Ken moved to Wanniassa. It should be noted that Sue was no slouch in the sporting arena. She was the first ACT Women’s softballer to be selected to play for Australia and was the ACT Sportsperson of the Year in 1975.

As his young sons, Scott and Paul, began playing football with the Tuggeranong Lions juniors, Ken put up his hand as coach – a role he had for well over a decade - and later as President of the club.

Ken followed as coach when the boys moved to Marist college, and he coached two Marist Premiership teams at Under 18 level in the early 2000s. Despite the interest of some AFL scouts, one talented member of those Marist football teams decided to pursue basketball instead of football and went on to a highly successful NBA and international basketball career. Ken thinks Australian Boomers captain and Olympic Bronze Medalist, Patty Mills, probably made a sound choice.

His junior coaching success led Ken to coach the ACT Under 16 Development Squads for several years and then the ACT Schoolboys’ team for a couple of seasons. He was chuffed when this became something of a family tradition when son, Paul (PC), was later appointed to the role of ACT Schoolboys Coach for 10 years. Over a similar timeframe, PC was playing for the Tigers Reserve Grade team while also coaching the Tigers Under 18 and Reserve Grade teams and later filling the Senior Assistant Coach role. 

In football terms, Ken came full circle when he took on the role of Assistant Coach to Mark Armstrong in 2005/06. He thoroughly enjoyed the involvement with the players as well as contributing to the development of tactics and strategy for the team, including scouting and preparing briefs on the upcoming opponents, the game day analysis and strategy. He also enjoyed his interaction and relationship with former Western Bulldogs Coach and then Tigers’ Consultant Coach, Terry Wheeler, with the two experienced heads regularly discussing the finer points and philosophy of football, life and coffee.

Regardless of what other involvement he may have had in football, throughout his post-playing days, Ken would still go to watch the senior Tigers compete on a regular basis. Whether he was in a playing, coaching or a very avid spectator role, Ken has seen multiple Tigers’ games every season for 65-odd years.

Ken says he has enjoyed the passage over time with the Tigers and watching the evolution of the game, with the team structures, playing styles, training drills and strategies all advancing. He notes the players today are somewhat overall more skillful and better players than in the past, partly due to that progression. He declares that he ‘learnt more as a Coach than I did in my playing days and that knowledge would have made me a better player’. (have heard that a few times before – aren’t learning and hindsight wonderful things). Ken includes Roy Willaims, Mal Wheeler, Marion Borowski, Jim Black, Ron Hopkins, Robert Anderson, Tony Wynd, James Kavanagh and Mark Armstrong in the best players he has seen in the Tigers colours, with Mal Wheeler’s beautiful hands and magnificent drop kick goals and Jim Black’s ball winning ability and acceleration out of congestion the most enjoyable to watch. He notes that Kade Klemke, Josh Bryce and Andrew Swan are certainly standouts in the current 1st Grade team.

Ken affirms that ‘football is a family sport and the Tigers have been such a big part of my life starting from my childhood days. It has been a family involvement literally for generations and I enjoy reflecting on the good times …. and the bad. I have many life‑long friendships I gained through football.’

On one occasion when ringing the Tigers Club President who worked at the Department of Foreign Affairs in the seventies, the phone was answered by another staff member who quirkily said, "sorry he isn't on this number anymore, he has transferred the Queanbeyan Tigers Club to the third floor" !!!!!!!!!

When Ken says life-long friendships, he is not exaggerating. He tells me that he and his family have been close friends with former Tigers’ players and fellow 100 Club Members, Renato Res and Marion Borowski and their families since the trio were teammates in the 1960s. (tongue in cheek, Ken says that these friendships have endured even though he was runner up twice in the Best and Fairest to M. Borowski) Over the years, the three families have shared events and milestones such as birthdays and their children’s weddings and holidays together. Indeed, at the time of writing another shared holiday had just been booked.

So, Ken says if he was to run into his old careers advisor today, he would proudly report that he did indeed achieve his stated ambition!

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