North Warrnambool’s Ben Mugavin has made his mark

UNLUCKY: North Warrnambool veteran Ben Mugavin says the Eagles' form hasn't been as bad as their record suggests. Picture: Morgan Hancock
UNLUCKY: North Warrnambool veteran Ben Mugavin says the Eagles' form hasn't been as bad as their record suggests. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Benjamin, what are your memories of the 2006 premiership win?

We beat Camperdown to win the flag. Bryan Beinke was the coach.

I think we played Camperdown on five occasions in 2006 and we won the one that counted.

I was 19 years old, while my brother Jeremy was also in the side. He was only 17.

I’ll never forget Beinke before the game. He went through our game plan and then just eyeballed each player. I thought it was pretty powerful.

I was dropped four games before the end of the season, but ended up getting back into the side to play the last two home and away games.

I was living in Melbourne and training with Williamstown but used to come home on Saturdays to play footy with the Roosters.

We had top players in that side including Shorty Anderson, who was 42 years old. He was a champion player for the club.

Troy Dixon and Ben Kilday were other star players.

Where did your career go in 2007?

I played with University Blues in Melbourne.

They play in the amateur competition. I played in the reserves premiership wins with University Blues in 2008 and 2009.

I had put in a solid preseason in 2009 and was in career-best form playing in University Blues A grade side until I broke my right foot in round 7.

I missed the next 14 rounds. I sat on the bench for the last four reserves home and away games to qualify for the finals in 2009.

I came back to play footy with South Warrnambool in 2010. I did my right hamstring in the last home and away game, which meant I missed the finals in 2010.

I was gutted. We ended up losing the grand final.

I did the preseason with South Warrnambool in 2011 before going overseas.

Were you overseas for the whole season in 2011?

Yes, I missed out on South Warrnambool’s premiership win in 2011.

I will never forget that I was in Liverpool, listening to the grand final in the early hours of the morning on 3WAY FM, when my data ran out with two minutes left in the game.

I knew the Roosters had the game won.

I must admit, it was a very lonely place in Liverpool when your know your mates would be celebrating another premiership win over the other side of the world.

Do you have any regrets about missing out on that grand final victory in 2011?

I wouldn’t say I’ve got regrets. I was away for nine months and visited some great places in Europe and South America.

I came back to play for the Roosters in 2012 and also coached the under 18 side for two seasons.

We had no luck in the seniors or under 18s. I left South Warrnambool and made the move to North Warrnambool in 2014.

What was the reason for the change of clubs?

I had a few mates playing out at North Warrnambool and I thought it was a good time to make the change.

We lost the preliminary final in 2014 and got beaten by Koroit in the 2016 grand final. I think we were up by about 40 points at one stage of the second quarter in the grand final.

We thought we had the game won, but Koroit just ran over the top of us. We finished third at the end of the home and away season in 2017 but got knocked out in straight sets, which was really disappointing.

This season, the Eagles are winless after five games. What’s your thoughts on how the seniors are performing at this stage of the season?

Our form is not really that bad. We’ve lost three games by under five points.

With a bit of luck, the results could have been a lot different.

We lost a couple of handy players in the off-season which has really hurt us.

The competition overall is pretty even but in saying that Port Fairy and Koroit look to be the benchmark sides.

Benjamin, you’ve been a ruckman in the Hampden League for many years. How is your body holding up to the constant smash and bash of playing in a key position?

The body is not too bad. I was considering at the start of this season that I might retire, but I decided to have another crack.

I’m not sure if I’ll play next season. Family and work have kept me very busy.

Our son Patrick is four months old and with my job as a director with Herron Todd White, things are always happening.

The company, which is a National Property Valuation and Advisory firm, is really growing across the western district.

We have a strong focus on agricultural and commercial sectors.

Your cousins Jonathan Brown, Liam and Marcus Picken have all played footy at the elite level. I suppose you would have wonderful memories of their achievements on the footy field?

Yes. My family were fortunate to be there when Jonathan played in the three premierships with the Brisbane Lions. I was 14, 15 and 16 years old when the Lions won those three flags.

It was incredible to be in the rooms after those victories.

I was disappointed that I missed Liam’s grand final win with the Western Bulldogs in 2016.

When I was training with Williamstown back in 2006, Liam would pick me up for training.

I saw how hard he worked to play footy at the elite level.

He was working at various jobs and training and playing with Williamstown.

He worked his guts out to play in that flag win.

The Bulldogs were going ordinary in the early stages of 2016 when my brothers Jamie, Jeremy and my dad Noel decided to book an overseas holiday.

We were at a bar in Cambodia watching the Bulldogs win the flag.

I must admit I got emotional, as I knew how hard Liam had worked to be part of that premiership victory.