Sons of Guns
Sons of Tigers legends the next generation of champs
By Steph Konatar, Queanbeyan Age sports journalist and Tigerette’s player. Republished with permission of the Queanbeyan Age. First published in the Queanbeyan Age, 17 July 2015.
Between them they have played over 600 games for the Queanbeyan Tigers and the names Mark Armstrong, Jason Gilbert and Guy Mertz are acclaimed among local football fans, but now it’s time for the Tigers legends to hand over the baton to their sons, Jack, Jordan and Lachlan.
The junior trio of up-and-coming AFL champions will travel to Geelong, Victoria on Saturday, July 18 to represent ACT in the under 12s School Sport Australia Australian Football National Championships.
Jordan Gilbert, son of 200-gamer, captain and Country All Australian Jason, will captain the side and surprisingly for those who remember ‘Gilbo’ as a player will note his tough-nut, yet quiet achiever style of football, a slight contrast to his son, said ACT squad coach Dave Corcoran.
“Jordan, just like Jason is a natural born leader. Where Jason would lead by example, Jordan is very good at directing his team mates and making decisions with the footy,” he said.
The 12-year-old half-back flanker/midfielder found it amusing his Dad used to be quiet on field, especially given his instruction when he helps to coach his Tigers on the weekend.
“He tells me to go harder and be louder and he’s very passionate,” Jordan said.
Jason joked his son was “already more skillful than me” and “likes to run and carry, which are good attributes”, he too identified some differences in their playing styles, but their love of the game is definitely the same.
“I was more of an inside player and he’s an outside player, but he far exceeds my skill level,” he said.
“I get a lot of enjoyment from watching and coaching Jordan, I come across a lot of familiar faces all the time.
“This weekend I just hope he enjoys himself and meets a few mates, they should learn a lot from it.”
When asked about their skill level compared to their Dads’ all of the boys joked they were already better than them, but after Jordan joked he was “already better than his Dad, easy” he admitted he would “like to be as good as Dad one day and have fun playing footy.”
When a cheeky grin like that of Jack Armstrong approaches you, there’s no doubt he’s the son of arguably one of the best players to don the yellow sash, Mark ‘Merv’ Armstrong.
Merv is the club’s all time leading goalkicker and he has both captained and coached in his more than 300 games at the Tigers.
He has a list of achievements including Queanbeyan best and fairest, captaining the ACT side and Country All-Australian representation.
Merv and Jack are both key forwards and of course the 12-year-old already considers himself much better than his legendary Dad. His Dad, and his coach, would often take him out for a kick at the oval, teaching him everything he knows.
Merv, like Jason, said he enjoyed coaching Jack, he was very proud of his son’s state-level representation.
“[Jack’s] athletic, hard-running and reasonably tall, he’s a key position player, he loves to have a bounce,” he said.
“I’m a key forward too, but I’m definitely not as fast as him, not now anyway.
“He’s making representative teams that I couldn’t make as a kid. Hopefully he’ll have as much fun playing footy as I did.
“A lot of my former teammates coach now because I guess we’re giving back to the sport that gave us so much.” Dave said all three boys have similarities to their Dads as footballers and Jack is no exception.
“Jack loves a goal, and whilst not yet as strong as Merv, he has the potential to be key forward,” he said.
The Mertz’s are on the outer because Lachlan plays for Eastlake, coached by his Dad, former Tigers premiership player, state representative and 100-gamer.
Dave said he is hopeful Lachlan will switch over to the yellow and back in the coming years so he can complete the under 12s father-son trio.
The 11-year-old is one of the youngest in the ACT squad, but is described by his Dad as an athlete, playing in the ACT development squad for soccer and is a champion long jumper and sprinter, qualities that gives Guy’s former teammates a chuckle.
“The Tigers think that’s very funny because I wasn’t very fast at all,” Guy said.
Guy was a traditional ruckman and given Lachlan is younger than most he’s not quite tall enough for the ruck and will play in full-back for the carnival, Dave said.
Dads coaching their sons has the potential to be testing for the relationship, but Lachlan said he quite enjoys it.
“It’s different my Dad being my coach, because he’s my coach, but he’s also my Dad, but it’s nice,” he said.
Guy said he misses the team side of football, but enjoys watching his son grow as a player, despite getting a fair bit of schtick from old teammates for his now red and black associations, he laughed.
“Lachlan’s a good athlete and he’s very coachable, he’s been brought up with footy and it’s good to see him enjoying it and learning the game,” he said.
“It’s all about the kids enjoying their footy and it’s great to see the game evolving.”