This weekend we celebrate Ted “Twidder” Widmer’s 100th open-age club game with the Pennant Hills Demons. And what an important match it will be for both Ted and his team as they line up against minor premiers Balmain Tigers in Saturday’s Reserve Grade second semi-final; the winner to advance to the Grand Final in a fortnight’s time. Sharing the stage with Teddy will be Brant Jack who is set to play his 200th open-age game, also on Saturday.
When asked about his footy roots Ted told this author that he first played with the Pennant Hills Junior Club when he was 13 years old. However, Club records indicate that he started in 2002 playing with the Under 11 team. Perhaps, he can be forgiven for blocking from his memory what was probably not the best initiation to the code, as the team started with only six players and “survived” only with the assistance of the U10’s backing-up. They were forced to forfeit one match and on other occasions they had to rely on the opposition to provide players to even-up numbers … not the most memorable way to start your footy career!
After this inauspicious start, Ted went on to play six seasons of footy with the junior Demons, accumulating 82 club games between 2002 and 2007. One of his team-mates throughout his time at the Juniors was Matt Miles and Matt’s participation in the team meant that his dad, Rod, would coach this playing group right through their time at the Juniors. Interestingly, Rod was a Pennant Hills Junior himself playing one season in 1971 before going on to play 233 games with the Senior Club.
In 2003, with the Under 12s, Ted’s above average height was already a feature and his coach described him as an “excellent tap ruckman who … was easily the best ruckman in the competition.” Then in 2004, the Under 13 team had its “first season with a full list of players” and for the first time didn’t have to rely on boys backing up from lower grades. The team won the Premiership defeating the previously undefeated Westbrook side in a “sensational Grand Final victory.” Ted was noted to have had “a colossal finals series” and was “developing into an excellent footballer.” Rod Miles was awarded Coach of the Year. The team went Back-to-Back the following season, defeating Baulkham Hills 10.9.69 to 1.1.7 in 2005.
In 2006, with the Under 15s, Ted played in the forward line and was noted to have “modelled himself on Barry Hall, without the Bad Barry attitude!” In his final year with the Juniors, Ted was captain of the Under 16 team which were runners-up in the Grand Final. Ted was noted as “an excellent team player and has a terrific temperament.” This season, however, he played with a “similar style to Adam Goodes.” Yes, Ted is a Swannies fan!
During his time in Juniors, Ted also played representative footy at various levels … Under 13 and U14 Northwest, the Under 15 Sydney V-Line Cup Team and 16s, 17s and 18s Stars. He was also selected for the Under 15 Combined Independent Schools State Cup Team (alongside current team-mate Michael “Mouse” Johnston).
During his last season in Juniors, 2007, Ted also had his first taste of footy with the Senior Club, playing 4 games with the Under 18s. He then played a full season of Under 18s in 2008 and played a total of 33 under-age games over three seasons. In 2009, he made his first grade debut. Over the next couple of seasons he played mainly Reserve Grade before establishing himself as a regular in the Premier Division side in 2012. Since then, he has played most of his footy in the first grade side, however, overseas travel and injury in the current season has set him back a little and ironically, his main competition for the Premier ruck spot, is his older brother, Sam. At 194 cm tall, Ted’s height is a valuable addition to any side and whether it’s Prems or Ressies this weekend he has the opportunity to make his mark in this season’s finals.
Ted played in the Premier Division side that has competed in finals over the past three years, 2012 – 14. His first full season in first grade, 2012, was a great highlight for him and “coming within 5 and 9 points, respectively, of the money stacked teams of UNSW and Balmain.” Participating in Grand Finals in 2013 and 2014 was a great achievement, however he would “love to hold the cup” … well, maybe this year?
When asked who is the best player he’s played with, Ted says it is “a toss-up between Alex Goodall and Lloyd Shepherd … maybe Lloyd just” … and he considers himself “lucky enough to play with both last year in the same team.” Best player against in Sydney AFL would be Selby Lee-Steere of Balmain.
A right foot kick, strangely jumper number 9 is his favourite, although ironically he has never worn it! Of the people who have had the greatest influence on his footy career Ted says:
“My dad to begin with in the junior years, then two junior coaches Daniel Kenny and Rod Miles who were always insightful and motivating. Justin Barrett’s brief stint as my U18’s coach was also a massive influence on me staying with the game and learning so much. And of Course within senior footy, Chris Yard has been awesome.”
How has footy and the Club been important? Ted responds:
“Whilst cliché, the friends that you make here are unparalleled. Being able to see everyone three times a week you manage to create great relationships, and this club is the best in Sydney AFL by a mile. The amount of people here that do so much work without ever looking for praise and recognition is incredible. From Phil the President, to the weekly rotation volunteer system, everyone loves being involved. I love the history here and the people, it’s been a massive part of my life and I’m looking forward to the years to come with it.”
Congratulations Twidder on reaching 100 games for the Pennant Hills Demons. May there be many more and good luck for the remaining finals in season 2015.