JEFF STEPHENSON

WE’RE not too sure things will be quite the same around the club next season when long-time soul mates – Brian and Deb Osland – take advantage of retirement and set sail into the wild bluey-brown Australian yonder.

The couple has been part of the Redland Football Club fabric for the best part of the last 15 years.

They are the quintessential supporters/volunteers lending their time, their knowledge, their support and their under-stated enthusiasm to the Redland Bombers’ cause.

Brian has been a board member since 2009 and the club secretary since 2015.

He announced recently his decision to step down from the position he has held so close to his heart.

With Deb retiring this week from her 40-year career in teaching and administration (21 of those years at Faith Lutheran College) and the happy couple celebrating their 40th-wedding anniversary at the same time, they’ve decided they’ll be concentrating on some well-earned travel over the next few (well, quite a few) months.

The first port of call will be to Cambodia and Vietnam in February to celebrate their wedding anniversary and then it will be back home and off they’ll go again.

But more of that later.

Brian’s previous life as a financial wizard has been invaluable and he’s backed it with lashings of wise counsel and some liberal doses of common-sense that have helped secure the club’s position, particularly when times became a little tougher than they otherwise might or should have been.

It’s helped keep us on an even keel and our noses very much to the grindstone.

He didn’t play that much as a youngster.

“Well I played, but I played badly,” he said a tad disparagingly.

“I was just too small and too slow.”

He recalls his father-in-law even suggesting to him back in the day he should try out as an apprentice jockey.

But that was never going to happen, and football was always a part of his life, particularly as a youngster in Cairns where his father was a committeeman with the North Cairns Tigers and who played a major role in developing the club’s facilities.

“Dad helped in a big way the building of the club’s clubhouse.

“There were always footy functions going on back then and because we had a bit of acreage, we’d very often have players turning up after a game.

“It was nothing of a Sunday morning to see a player curled up asleep on a chair out the back.”

Marriage, the arrival of two children (the family is now in Brisbane by this stage) and work meant the football scene took something of a back seat for the next several years.

It was when he hooked up with Redland Bombers’ board member Anthony Mueller and his wife Kathy that the revival began.

“Anthony’s son Adam played for Redland and Deb and I came along to watch a few games.

“I suppose because Deb and I had two daughters I wasn’t getting the footy fix that I’d previously had but then with Adam playing and becoming captain and playing rep footy, well that was the start of the rejuvenation.

“With Deb teaching at Faith (Anthony was principal) we kept meeting up with people involved with the club.

“There was a lot of familiar faces.

“So, we did our apprenticeship running the barbecue at home games and after a coupe of years of that they allowed us to open the can bar near the canteen and Deb and I ran that until Occupational Health and Safety got in the way and we weren’t allowed there anymore.”

Undeterred the relationship flourished, and Brian was elected to the board in 2009.

He and Deb have played hosts in the club’s corporate box for the past several years and have been the perfect pair looking after our most important guests at home games – our much loved and cherished sponsors.

Brian was honoured to be awarded the “Club Person of the Year” in 2018.

“Deb and I have loved being a part of this football club – every minute of it.  It’s been such a pleasure and we’ve become great friends with so many people.

“It’s always been our mindset to give back to the community and to be part of the community.

“But it’s not just that it’s the supportive environment provided for the players on and off the field

“That capacity and support is very tangible and very important in what I still call grassroots footy.”

What he hasn’t experienced, however, is the ultimate success.

Yes, there have been finals appearances, but he can readily flashback to the days when “we” were regularly beaten by 100 points or more.

It never had the effect of bringing the place down.

“They just got on with it.”

The jump to NEAFL has seen a different challenge as the Bombers’ do battle at an elite level on a very tough stage.

“This is not an easy competition.

“You look back over the years and see how many players have been drafted into the AFL and you can see how it’s affected us.

“I believe that we get the right group of young men and they tack on to the motivation and drive of Phil and Chris and the other coaches then we’ll be well on our way to finals footy.

“I’m not saying we’ll win a flag next season – it’s tough playing against four AFL clubs for a start – but as long as we’re competitive and keep developing players, get maybe one drafted each year and have players named in the Team of the Year then that would be great.

“Being competitive and being able to contribute to the system is what I believe is our role – we’re doing that, and I reckon next year we’ll do it even better.”

He and Deb will be keeping a resolute eye on the results when they arrive back from their overseas trip and embark on the next stage of their journey.

And where will that take them?

They purchased a caravan a few years ago and their first trial run was for just shy of four months up to the Gulf and back through some of Australia’s harshest terrains.

They found it exhilarating and educational.

So, after stepping from the plane, they’ll settle down for a bit, re-ignite the travel bug, hook up the van again and make their way to Longreach.

“Then we’ll just keep going and come back when we’re good and ready.”

Safe travels to you both and thanks for your passion and commitment – you will be missed.

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