Report: JEFF STEPHENSON
ADAM Mueller was wondering how much he meant to the team and what qualities he brought to it soon after being named captain of Redland in 2007. They were mostly hard, mean and despairingly desolate times. What made it tough for the young leader – Adam was just 19 when appointed captain – was that whenever he missed a game, whether it be via State representation or even injury, the Bombers would invariably come out and win.
“I reckon I’d played 30 or 40 matches before I managed a win as captain. “But what made it worse was that whenever I missed a game that’s when we’d win one. “I was called the weak link by the playing group,” Adam said, clearly tongue-in-cheek, but with just the slightest hint of exasperation even today – a decade later. His value to Redland was illustrated a little later, however, and proved beyond doubt the esteem in which he was held by the playing group and coaching staff. In 2012, he and then partner, now wife, Emma ventured north – a long way north – to Thursday Island. That’s 40 kilometres north of Cape York Peninsula, that’s how far north.
Emma, a speech pathologist and Adam’s career as a high school teacher, enabled them to quickly snaffle employment and provide them the opportunity to experience life beyond the confines of Brisbane, where they had lived all their young lives. “Yeah, we were up for a change,” Adam, now 30, said. “It was the right time for both of us.” There was but one catch.
At the end of the 2011 – after Redland had played finals the previous two seasons – Adam was left stranded on 99 senior appearances with the team he’d been involved with since he started under 16s as a 14-year-old in 2002. While it did trouble him to a degree the lure of the north had well and truly established itself, so he’d become used to the idea that he’d finish with the club as a 99-gamer. That’s when then coach Greg Seton-Lonsdale hatched a plan. “We’ll fly you back for one game,” Seton-Lonsdale told him as the coach understood the former skipper was deserving of the milestone. That knocked the wind out of Adam’s sails a bit, but he thought, why not? That would be great. He’d continue playing when he could on TI and the instruction to keep himself fit was not going to present any problem.
So, the deal was done. He and Emma duly departed the Redlands and settled into their new life seamlessly. All that was required from Seton-Lonsdale was to select the game and make the arrangements, which, by then, had met with club approval. It was roughly mid-NEAFL season when Adam received the call, made his way to Cairns, hopped on another flight to Brisbane and stepped out at Scottsdale Park a day later to don the Redland jumper one more exciting time, notching his 100th match in the process.
“I was excited to be able to play in the match. “To think the club, and Greg in particular, would organise that for me was incredible. “They had a run-through banner organised – it really was pretty special. “We played Belconnen and I remember I got a few kicks, but the best thing was we won. “It was a huge relief.”
He remembers most of his family were at the match for the occasion – Emma missed, however – and to wind up on the ground as the siren sounded and with the victory as a bonus the wondrous occasion left a hugely indelible impression. Adam’s junior days were impressive and there was a hint he might get drafted in 2005-06, but when he missed he threw aside the disappointment and concentrated his energy on playing his very best for Redland. He made his debut as a 17-year-old, was captain in 2007 and shared the role with the legendary Phil Carse in 2008, winning the best and fairest at centre half-back with the occasional run in attack that same year.
Adam says the loss of several senior players in 2007 and his “pretty good work ethic at training” plus his “character” led to him being elevated to the captaincy. Carse took on the role in his own right in 2009 and it was the arrival, soon after, of former Melbourne star Jeff White and ex-Lions’ players Daniel Dzufer and Scott Clouston that kick-started Redlands’ rise in NEAFL ranks. Now back in Brisbane with Emma and their two boys William, 2, and Oliver, three months, Adam is still getting a kick – with QFA Division 1 club, Mayne.
But he will always call Redland home. “Redland will always be my club. “I have very fond memories of my time there. It was very special.”
Well done to you Adam on becoming one of the select members of our 100-game club – the way it was organised and achieved is truly special and mightily memorable.