By JEFF STEPHENSON
IT was eight years ago when Phil Carse, then Redland captain, was impressed by the talents of a 20-year-old Mt Gravatt midfielder.
The youngster in question put on a show that day kicking seven goals in a great individual performance against the Bombers and Carse, now the Bombers’ coach, remembers it well recalling this week “we went after him pretty hard” as a result of the talented young gun’s masterclass.
The efforts by Carse and others at Redland were well rewarded when they were successful in getting the Mt Gravatt youngster across to Scottsdale Park as it is now known.
The story reaches an unexpected platform on Saturday when the pair will line up for milestones with Redland against Sydney Swans.
Carse will play his 150th match at Blacktown International Sports Park and “the recruit” – now entrenched Bomber, Damian Steven – will play his 100th.
Neither of them would have thought back then they would be sharing such individual honours on the same day, particularly in view of the paths since taken.
It is well documented that Carse left Redland at the end of 2014 for a four-year spell as coach of Hampden League club Camperdown only returning to the NEAFL this year.
The spread from his 148th to 149th game has been a mammoth 1653 days and that’s a lot of water under the bridge in anyone’s language.
Thank heavens the gap to the big 150 will be nowhere near that.
While acknowledging his 150th, Carse said it was not high on his “tick-off” list as the mere fact of him “getting on the park” has occupied his thoughts more seriously.
“That’s been something I’ve been juggling with,” he said.
He pulled up well after the 60-point victory against Canberra admitting he was “carrying a few sore spots” but that overall he felt “pretty good.”
“It was good being out there although I felt pretty rusty, personally, and I guess I had a real defensive mindset.
“We’ve got another huge challenge this week, but if we play with the same positive outlook then we’ll give a good account of ourselves.”
As for Damian, he’s had some eventful paths since forging his apprenticeship with Alexandra Hills.
He switched to Mt Gravatt and then moved on to Gold Coast Suns where he played in the TAC Cup under 18 competition and later with the club’s VFL team.
“It was pretty exciting for a young bloke to be flying down to Melbourne just about every fortnight to play football.
“We probably took it a bit for granted.”
He then returned to Mt Gravatt for a year playing in the NEAFL Northern Conference, finally switching to Redland after his break-out game against the Bombers.
His first season was progressing beautifully until it was tragically cut short two weeks before the 2012 finals with a serious knee injury and the resulting reconstruction forced him to miss all of 2013.
Damian is now among Redland’s experienced campaigners and his output in the last few seasons has seen him chart impressive figures on the KPI index, which has established him as among the club’s most consistent players.
Strong pre-seasons and a commitment to recovery are factors he believes have been keys in his achieving that consistency.
“I’m very proud to be a 100-game player with Redland,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed every bit of the journey.
“I’ve made great friends and played with great players and it has been the camaraderie that I’ve loved the most.
“Playing with the likes of Tom Salter and Adrian Williams – those types of players – has been what’s made it really worthwhile.
“You just love playing with your mates – it’s why I’m still here.”
From all of us at Redland, we wish both of you well against the Swans – as we do the rest of the team.
Give it everything.