By JEFF STEPHENSON
HE’S an institution around the club – and so is wife, Sue, for that matter – but there was a time after season 2018 that Deion Menzies contemplated placing his Redland cue in the Scottsdale Park rack.
The thought processes rumbling inside his head kept telling him he’d done enough.
Well, he had too, but unbeknown to him there were others with an opinion decidedly different to his own.
What Deion hadn’t prepared himself for were the persuasive powers of some familiar figures, none the least of whom was (and still is) the club’s Football Operations Manager, Marty King.
Deion has been club photographer-cum oddjobber-cum rotations officer – the latter and most important is the one he has held since 2013, when then coach Greg Lonsdale lured him aboard.
It’s a pivotal role.
It takes patience, a rounded knowledge of the playing group, a sense of where the game’s at, good relations with the coaching staff, and, most importantly, it relies on someone with a hearty degree of calm and resilience.
Deion has each of those in spades.
“Yeah, there’s times you become flustered,” he said.
“There’s plenty of yelling going on.
“The coaches can be yelling to do this or to do that and the players are yelling too, but I’ve got to hang tight and make decisions and stay composed and try to stay calm.
“If I start yelling too, then it’d all go to shit.”
That’s Deion’s idea of a good afternoon out.
What he didn’t say is that it’s an adrenaline rush and to be at the coalface on game day is a highly contagious and highly rewarding task.
So, while he thought he might give it away there were those within who reckoned they could influence him otherwise.
“Well, I’d been yelled at by three coaches by the end of last year and I didn’t think there would be a fourth.
“I hadn’t counted on that cup of coffee with Marty or the call from Phil.
“It didn’t take much to convince me, that’s for sure.”
So, he’s back – well, he never left, did he? – and once again the club has in its midst a volunteer of the highest order and one who is not just well regarded, but highly cherished by players and coaching staff alike.
A senior manager with the giant Downer Group of companies, Deion has his office located in Milton and has plenty on his overflowing plate other than his hectic activity with the Bombers.
His career started way back in the 1980s with Morningside juniors.
There was an under 17s premiership to behold and he can even remember back to his under 7s days when twice he played in drawn grand finals before the cast was broken at the third attempt.
“It wasn’t so much the football I remember, but the crepe paper stain on dad’s white car from the run through banner.
Deion enjoyed many a successful season with Morningside right up to the Colts.
It was his parents who inspired the type of involvement he commits to so readily today.
“Mum was the canteen convenor at Morningside and dad did just about everything from treasurer, to footy manager to whatever was going.
“There were times when I’d pack my bags and go to games with him in case the ressies were short and I’d get the last-minute call.”
After securing an electrical apprenticeship Deion went to work at a power station at Kingaroy, finding the time to make the three-hour drive to Yeronga where he played sometimes in the midfield and mostly on a half-back flank.
“I obviously couldn’t train with the team and I think I might have told them I was doing a bit more than I really was.”
It was at age 25 with the pressure of work and a couple of dilapidated knees that forced him into retirement.
“I didn’t go back for another 10 years after that because I couldn’t play, and anyway I felt I’d probably had enough by then.
“I don’t think I even watched that many games.”
It was the arrival of twin boys Ryan and Tim who enjoyed Auskick at Alexandra Hills that kick-started Deion’s re-emergence on the football scene.
He walked into the clubrooms one day where he met “an old Morningside fella” who knew instantly there was a prospective coach in the club’s midst.
From juniors he scrambled all the way through to senior ranks.
“It was a good time, but I eventually got the sack – like all coaches do.”
In the meantime, Deion’s focus on junior football led to him being elected to the Brisbane Juniors board for several years, culminating in his term as president of the premier junior structure in South-East Queensland in 2017.
Before then he coached the Queensland under 18 girls’ teams in national competitions, finishing runner-up to Victoria at Adelaide’s West Lakes oval in 2012 and then third the following year at Shepparton in Victoria.
Former Collingwood premiership player and present Brisbane AFLW coach Craig Starcevich followed Deion, who proudly points to seven girls from his teams going on to represent the Lions in the fast-growing and tremendously popular national competition
His time with Redland has been eminently satisfying.
“It’s really exciting at this level.
“It’s quality football and you’re surrounded by quality people.
“Seeing young kids come to the club and then being drafted – well, that’s something else.
“I remember 2015 as the big year – we had five players drafted and while it was really exciting for them and for us it was still a little bit sad.”
Deion says the “coming together” of the Bombers and Victoria Point Sharks this season has been a huge highlight.
“That other day when we played at home and the Sharks played Alex Hills, that was just so good.
“It was a full day of footy and there were people everywhere. It really was a great day.”
Here’s a small sample size of some of Deion’s football achievements:
- Played junior football with Morningside
- Played senior football with Yeronga
- Senior coach at Alexandra Hills
- Junior coach at Alexandra Hills, 2003-2009
- President Alexandra Hills JAFC 2008-2009
- AFL Brisbane board member 2010-2011
- Qld Youth girls Head Coach 2012-13
- Qld Volunteer of the Year 2013
- AFL Brisbane Junior President 2016
- Brisbane Junior advisory board member 2017
Now, we have mentioned before how Deion became the official Redland photographer.
That came about when Sue bought him a camera for something to do after coaching.
Unable to do anything less than professionally, Highflyer Images, was born and Deion’s photography became the talk of the town, except it is now Sue – not Deion – who captures the spectacular shots we see posted on our website after each match and every function.
She loves every minute of it.
“I had to have something to do and when Deion got to do the rotations it then gave me the chance to keep busy on game day, too.”
Sue reckons her knowledge of football has grown over time, but says she gained a good grounding when the kids were playing.
“You do everything then, don’t you?
“You’re the team manager, the goal umpire, you cut up the oranges, you do all the jobs you have to do.
“That’s the way it is.”
That hands-on involvement is something Sue thoroughly enjoys and of which the club is mightily appreciative.
She can be taking pictures on match-day, busily capturing the special moments and glamor of a Wags Flamingle occasion or Breakfast at Tiffany’s, be tucked away at a key vantage point at the club’s big golf day, she’ll be snapping the contenders and the WAGS and the rest of us at the Dowling Medal presentation night and whatever else pops up on the social calendar.
Like Deion she’s everywhere.
We could go out on a limb here and call her “Runaround Sue”.
What do you reckon, Deion?
For those of you under the age of 60 and who are befuddled by the above suggestion, you’d best google the song and see the connection for yourselves.
GO BOMBERS AND GO DEION AND SUE