Farewell to Alan Woodman: fearless footballer who left a lasting impression

ALAN Woodman was so fearless as a footballer he once attempted to correct a broken nose at half-time in the changerooms at Terang.

Alan Woodman training with Geelong in 1976.

Alan Woodman training with Geelong in 1976.

The story is one of hundreds friends and teammates have of the former VFL and bush footballer, who left a lasting impression wherever he played the sport.

Woodman died from cancer on May 8, aged 58. Among his many football achievements are two Maskell Cups while coaching Camperdown in 1982-83.

The powerfully built ruckman and fitness fanatic arrived at Camperdown from St Albans in 1982, having played 58 matches for Geelong between 1975 and ’79.

The Magpies had little success during his tenure but Woodman “changed the way” football was played at the club and in the Hampden league.

His influence and legacy was such that Magpies footballers wore black armbands in their matches against Portland at Hanlon Park last Saturday.

“He was an absolute fitness freak, he gave 150 per cent and he expected everybody else to give 150 per cent,” Magpies stalwart Peter Conheady said.

“He ran them and ran them and ran them. They would’ve run every street in Camperdown. They would’ve run up and down Mount Leura 433 zillion times.”

Conheady said Woodman, who stood 191cm and weighed 100kg, was “a huge person in more ways than one”.

He recalled a story when Woodman was to represent Hampden in an interleague match against Geelong, but was running late.

The bus was about to leave the Camperdown war memorial without the gun tall before a teammate spotted him running down Cressy Street.

Woodman had jogged from his home at Chocolyn to Camperdown (7.2km). Hours later, he was celebrating a best-on-ground performance. “He would kick the ball out at full-back and he’d be down at centre half-forward again to kick a goal,” Conheady said.

Kevin Russell played under Woodman before taking on the Camperdown coaching job for three years from 1986, leading the side to two grand finals.

“The first thing I couldn’t get over was the size of him. He was a big strong character and physically big,” Russell said.

“It was something new, not only at our club but the whole league. He was a fitness freak and a great player, had everyone’s respect.”

Russell recalled Woodman once scaling the new light towers at Leura Oval to adjust the angle of the bulbs. “I don’t think he was scared of anything”.

But his most striking memory was from a match against Terang, in the days before the blood rule, when his teammate broke a nose but played on.

“He came off at half-time and went into the showers. Here’s Woody standing at the mirror and I’m hearing ‘crunch, crunch’,” he said.

“His nose was smashed and he was trying to fix it. There was blood everywhere, all over the basin ... most blokes would’ve been on their way to hospital.”

Woodman also played for Bannockburn, Winchelsea and Irrewillipe during a career which yielded three premierships and six league best-and-fairest awards.

His funeral was at Highton on Wednesday. He is survived by his wife Lyndsey and children Laura, Tim and Jess.

afawkes@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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