ADRIAN Gleeson grew up on a potato and dairy farm in Southern Cross, on the outskirts of Koroit.
As a teenager, outings for the talented young sportsman included a daily bus to school in Warrnambool and visits to Victoria Park in Koroit to train for and play football.
As a teenager, he made an immediate impact on the Hampden league, making his senior debut for Koroit in 1984.
He played 32 games for the Saints, kicking 58 goals along the way and polled 15 Maskell Medal votes.
While he was shining brightly on the local stage, little did the young man, known affectionately as ‘Humphrey,’ realise that he would one day star on the biggest stage, on the biggest day, in Australian sport.
Gleeson takes us through the three times he covered the hallowed turf of the MCG on grand final day with the famous navy blue and white colours of Carlton on his back.
This included the 1987 season decider, which at the time, was the hottest grand final on record, with the temperature reaching 30.7 degrees.
The 1986 reserves grand final win over Footscray.
"In 1986, both the seniors and the reserves were in the grand final so it was a whole of club approach.
For me as a 19-year-old in my first season at Carlton, it was surreal to be playing on the MCG on grand final day, it was what you dream about as a kid.
Some of the Carlton heroes from the late 1970s and early 1980s were playing in the reserves, blokes like Rod Ashman, Alex Marcou, Ken Sheldon, those blokes were triple premiership players.”
Getting selected for Carlton’s 1987 senior grand final team to play Hawthorn.
"It all went to another level when I got to play in the main game in 1987.
We had won the second semi-final so we had the week off.
We went and watched the preliminary final between Melbourne and Hawthorn and then we went to the Dandenongs as a team for the night.
I remember Alan Jones came and spoke to us and he was really good.
His message was to take it minute by minute, that become our mantra.
We trained Monday, Tuesday and Thursday as normal, the only difference was on the Thursday night there were about 15,000 people there.
I was going to university at the time but I think I might have missed a few classes that week.
One of the most important jobs I had to do grand final week was get tickets to the game. I ended up getting 58 tickets for family and friends.
It was really satisfying to be able to do that and share the moment with people who had played such a big part in my life and helped me get to where I was.
When the team was announced on the Thursday night, it was probably the most up I had ever been.
The parade was on Friday, that was a unique experience, 100,000 lining the streets.
Grand final day, 1987.
“Going to the ground on the Saturday, the crowd and the hype was just an incredible buzz, it’s something you don’t forget.
Running out onto the ground there was so much happening, the balloons, the songs, the crowd, it was amazing.
The game itself was faster and more intense, we got off to a good start and we were just able to keep them at bay throughout the game.
The week off before the grand final worked in our favour, grand final day was hot, 30 degrees.
One of my assets was my fitness and I spent a bit of the first half on the bench.
I played the second half and I was a bit fresher than most of the players so I was able to go okay.
Hawthorn was such a great team, you never felt comfortable at any time when you were playing against them.
But I think we were four goals up in time-on in the last quarter and we were able to start getting our heads around winning.
The hour after the game was surreal, it means so much to so many people.
Carlton had so many followers so you do think about those people and that you represent them and what it means to them.
So much effort goes into winning a premiership.
Celebrations went on for a month I reckon.
Included in that was going over to the UK to play in the Battle of Britain against North Melbourne.
Wayne Johnston and Ken Hunter had talked to us before the grand final about what it meant to win a premiership.
They talked about how it is something you have forever and you can share with a group of your mates.
That’s how it’s played out, we had a 30-year reunion last year and it certainly is special when we catch up and look back on what we achieved.”
Playing in the 1993 grand final, in which Essendon defeated Carlton.
“Losing to Essendon in 1993 was the complete opposite to 1987.
“It was a really subdued atmosphere in the rooms and at the function after the game.
They jumped us at the start of the game and as hard as we tried, we just couldn’t get ourselves back in it.
I would have hated to have not had won a grand final after losing one.
I've never watched the replay of that game."
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