Robin who flew to top
Thursday, 28th April, 2011
Over the past few weeks the BDT has been running a series featuring Broken Hill's greatest football exports and today we continue that theme with a profile on former West star Colin Casey.
Colin returned to the city last weekend as part of the Great BH Reunion and while here he reaffirmed his committment to the Robins by signing on as a "Redwing" member of the club for 2011.
By Peter Argent
A 251-game league footballer at Sturt between 1971 and 1983, Colin Casey was a rock of the Double Blues defence for more than a decade.
A man with the typical self-effacing dry wit of a lad who has been brought up in the country, Casey tended to down play his achievements during a full and distinguished career at Unley.
He actually collected a club best and fairest in his second year - playing at full back - and was a member on the 1974 and 1976 premiership triumphs over Glenelg and Port Adelaide.
Casey started his football with West Broken Hill and played 33 games of senior football in the BHFL before transferring to the Jack Oatey-coached Sturt Football Club.
"Yes, I was a 'Cock Robin'", Casey proudly proclaimed.
"I had two years of senior football with West along with playing in, I reckon, five representative games wearing the Broken Hill colours.
"I can vividly remember between the ages of seven and 13 going down to have skills practise with guys like George Merrett, Tom Donovan and Neil Winkler.
"Jimmy Johns was my hero - he was always immaculately presented - and was a boxer and a top footballer at West," Casey added.
"Another legend of the Robins was Stan Brooks.
"Both were defenders."
When quizzed why he was predominantly a backman throughout his career and whether his grounding in the Silver City had anything to do with it, Casey recalled that at five-foot-eight-inches (173cm) his father Colin senior, known throughout the district as "Bow" (because he was bow legged), was a full-back as well." Among my favourite players were Verdon Howell (1959 Brownlow Medalist) and 'EJ'- Teddy Whitten," Casey continued.
"Also, full-back is the only place the opposition kicks the ball to you.
"At Sturt my apprenticeship was looking after the goal square for Brenton Adcock.
"I had the trio of Terry Short, Sandy Nelson and Adcock in front, while guys like Paul Bagshaw, Robertt Klomp, Brenton Howard and a lad by the name of Davies (Rick) - once he learnt to play the game, up the ground.
"It was a marvellous experience and I had a great time, he continued.
"I played alongside a great bunch of blokes, and a coach like Jack (Oatey) was a father figure.
"He was a great manager of people."
Casey rated SANFL Hall of Famer and 1969 Magarey Medalist Fred Phillis as his toughest opponent, while Roosters forward Barry Hearl proved troublesome.
"Barry is a good bloke, but the mongrel kicked six goals on me twice," Casey ruefully recalled.
"In a state game in Sydney against the Victorians I stood a couple of handy big men in Len Thompson and Graham Moss.
"In another game in 1978 my opponents were pretty handy as well in the form of (five-time South Melbourne best and fairest winner and 1970 Brownlow Medalist) Peter Bedford and Craig McKellar."
When discussions turned to the best players in his time, Casey confirmed that Barrie Robran was simply fantastic, while Sturt's Mr. Magic, Paul Bagshaw, was a special talent who stepped up when required.
Naturally, both Casey's premiership victories were pinnacles.
"It was pretty pleasing to win that first one in '74," Casey reiterated.
"That initial win was pretty amazing.
"Then, to be written off in '76, playing Port Adelaide in front of a crowd who really knows how big it was, was special as well."
In his work life Casey spent 17 years in a sports store with Phil "Sandy" Nelson, while also finding time to coach Sturt's under 19s for three years (including the 1984 premiership) and the reserves for the same time.
He was a development manager at West Adelaide for six years, as well as being CEO of Woodville-West Torrens Football Club for a further three years.
Currently a development/talent manger at Sturt, Casey is putting his knowledge and experience back into the game via the young talents at Unley - just like the men in the Silver City did for him during his formative years.