Mark Wilcox – 1993 Under 19 Premiership Player
It was a great team. We had awesome spirit. One of the best years of my life.
1993, I remember we had 16 players backing up from the losing 1992 team but we lost a few to first grade. We were a really tight team. [Penno U19s lost to St George by 20 pts in the 1992 Grand Final.] We all went out as a group, had house parties etc. Most of us would sit on the hill [at the Ern] with our own case of beer watching reserves and firsts and being the big cheer squad. There were some memorable parties, Clarke’s and Hemmingway’s in particular. Apart from Patrick’s [aka Pennant Hills Pub], some memorable nights at the Wild Turkey bar.
We only lost one game but the coach, Steve Barratt was more pissed off by a game we won by 100 points. That was against East Sydney and we were expected to win by 200 but we had all had a monster night at the Swans, which was exacerbated by some guys actually sleeping on the oval that night before the game at Trumper Park. From memory Hooter broke his fist sometime that night. Barro was not happy. It was probably the best thing for us as it pulled our heads in.
Our one loss was Parra. They caused us trouble in the earlier rounds as they used to make up for lack of skill, compared to us (but they had skill) by trying to ‘bash’ us out of the game. In the earlier rounds that’s fine but we were confident better umpires in finals would fix this. We just lost this game but we were horrendously unprepared. We were still getting our team photo done on the Western side of ‘The Ern’ when the umpires threw the ball up as we were so late and bolted on. We got jumped a bit early and never really recovered.
Going into the final series, as minor premiers, our biggest threat, we thought, was North Shore. We had had two loose games and their percentage was huge (337% vs PH 256%). The finals were also at their home ground. Why were we worried, we dominated them and into the granny!
The surprise in the granny was we were playing Saints instead of Shore. Saints had won fairly easily against Parra and Norths. We were quite surprised as I really think, from memory, we didn’t overly rate them. We had had a one point win against them last time, but it was mid-season and we were not playing well then.
There was excitement in the club the week of the GF and some hard decisions re the team selection made by Barro. Anyone who missed out was very unlucky, we had a very strong team.
Game day we dominated. Our backline was sensational. They couldn’t get the ball past us and we smashed goal after goal. They got a bit embarrassed and one St George player famously said to Patty Matthews (who had won the Kealy medal the year before) ‘at least I won the Kealy’ Patty just laughed and said ‘I won it last year’! The feeling was amazing in the last quarter when we knew we had them. Barro put the bench on, I remember him kind of apologising for taking me off and I said ‘it’s fine, as long as I’m on at the end’. He put me back on with 5 to go.
We had great support from the Penno faithful and there was elation when we won. People all got around the huddle and we were jubilant! We then got the trophy (strangely, the league didn’t give medals then, only a trophy, Penno made up medals for us) and I will never forget my elation when, as it was my turn with the cup, I thought about it and worked out the top came off. You should have seen the look on Patty Matthews face when he saw me take it off. He immediately filled it with beer and I had the first swig, it then went around the whole team and half the supporters, multiple times. Wouldn’t be Covid friendly today, haha! I remember the chants for the skulls constantly the whole night.
We then went back to Penno pub. I remember the elation of the longtime supporters that we had finally won an SFL premiership! The best thing was we didn’t have to put our hand in our pockets the whole night. Shout after shout was bought for us. We were obviously exhausted at closing, which was a Sunday from memory, so go home? God no. Off to Clarkey’s house for an all-night house party. Absolutely massive!!
The next thing I remember from that year is going off to the Good Coast for the footy trip. Once again us under 19s were kings. At one stage we were watching an AFL final on the big screen at Southport AFL club. Ex players who live in Queensland came down and one bloke, can’t remember who, put on $500 for the 19s. How good was that? Huge amount of cash back then and most of us were students.
I managed to break teammate Andrew Davies wrist at the halftime kick on the ground when we both slipped over going for a ball and I landed on his wrist, but he just strapped it up and he used it to get sympathy from the girls the rest of the trip(he never let me forget it but). Was an unbelievable trip.
End of memories. One thing I would say is that had we had Peter Dixon, Anthony Brawn, Michael Carey and Stefan Carey all available, and not playing Firsts (and Dicko and the two Carey’s also Swans with Stefan playing AFL) we would have won every game by 100 points.
Me personally, I was just proud that I played every game for the year. I was never overly skilled, I just tried hard and tried to contribute.