FORMER Koroit footballer Dominic Gleeson hopes to replace a “miserable” memory when he runs onto Reid Oval for the first time in more than a decade.
Gleeson, a playing assistant coach at VFL club Geelong, is part of the Cats team which will take on Coburg at Warrnambool’s premier ground tomorrow.
The 29-year-old’s last match at the Reid was the 2000 Hampden league grand final, a day Koroit lost to Camperdown by 43 points.
He’s keen to make amends almost 12 seasons later as the VFL heads bush.
The 2000 decider was one of about 10 Hampden league matches Gleeson played for the Saints between his Geelong Falcons commitments.
He never made it back to the south-west, signing with Carlton’s seconds, Werribee and now Geelong’s seconds, but fondly recalls his time at Koroit.
“I was a bit spasmodic playing down here. Playing at Geelong Falcons and besides local boy Simon O’Keefe, we would come home and play when we could,” he said.
“My memories are of being a young, springy 16 or 17-year-old, then moving to Melbourne.
“I loved playing under Noel Mugavin and Jason Mifsud, both at Koroit, and playing school footy under Leigh McCluskey.
“They’re guys that have coached sides and done really well.”
Gleeson is one of potentially four south-west players who will take to Reid Oval for the VFL match.
Warrnambool’s Simon Hogan, Colac’s Jonathan Simpkin and North Warrnambool Eagles’ Billie Smedts are also in an expanded Cats squad.
Gleeson said playing VFL had been “super” for his career, and he was relishing his mentoring role under coach Matthew Knights, non-playing assistant Paul Hood and captain Troy Selwood.
A return to Koroit was a possibility — but not any time soon.
“I’d always like to say that. It’s just where life and work takes me,” he said.
“Whoever coaches Koroit, I’ll speak to them at the start of the year, whether it be Joe or Chris McLaren. It’s good they think of me during recruiting time, and my family is still down there obviously.
“But at this stage life is at Melbourne and Geelong. In the near future probably not, but who knows.”
Geelong has a 6-4 win-loss record and sits sixth on the VFL ladder.
Gleeson encouraged south-west football fans to watch the match, which starts at 2pm and will have a strong AFL flavour.