Former Essendon footballer Marty Gleeson has fond memories of his time at Koroit.
At a glance
- Marty Gleeson
- Born: Warrnambool on August 25, 1994
- Partner: Amelia
- Parents: John and Clare.
- Siblings: Jonathan, Daniel and Nicole
- Education: St Patrick's Primary School Koroit before going to Emmanuel College Warrnambool for years 7 to 11 and then to St Patrick's College Ballarat.
- Sporting highlight: would have to be making my AFL debut with Essendon in 2014.
Marty, you played 97 games at the elite level with Essendon, but your career started with Koroit. What are your memories of those early years learning your skills with Koroit?
They are great memories. I was nine years old when I started in the Koroit Auskick program. I loved footy from a young age.
Growing up on a farm, there was always a game of cricket, footy, or cricket going on.
My brother Daniel played in the juniors with South Rovers, so I tagged along and played in the under-12s with Rovers before going back out to play under-14s with Koroit.
We went into Rovers for those couple of years because mum's brothers Vincent and Denis Bushell were heavily involved with the club.
Did the junior side have any premiership success when you came back to play in the under-14s at Koroit?
No. We never made the finals in my junior years. We sort of just struggled on and off the field. It's really different at Koroit now. They're just an amazing club.
Can you remember your first senior game at Koroit?
Yeah. It's pretty vivid in my mind. It was against Cobden in 2011 down there under lights. We ended up winning the game. The 2011 season was not a bad one for the club.
We lost the preliminary final to Warrnambool by two points which was gut-wrenching. Jeremy Hausler and Aaron Moyne also made their senior debuts the same night I made my debut at Cobden.
It's just amazing to see what sort of footy career Jeremy has had at Koroit. He's now played in seven straight premierships for the club.
He's not only been a top player for Koroit, but he's also a champion bloke.
Chris McLaren was my first senior coach at Koroit, and it's wonderful to have seen that Chris has had so much success as the Saints' senior coach.
He's a great bloke who commands respect because he respects all the players.
I played for the North Ballarat Rebels while studying at St Patrick's College before getting drafted to Essendon in the 2012 draft.
I had a solid pre-season with the Bombers in 2013, but I injured my right shoulder in the last practice games for Essendon's VFL side.
The injury was a blow as I was light-framed and trying to get a game on the senior side.
I made my senior debut with the Bombers in 2014 against the Kangaroos.
My first season saw me play nine senior games for the Bombers before playing 22 games in 2015, 20 in 2016 and 18 in 2017.
I had established myself as a senior player, but I was often under an injury cloud.
James Hird coached you for a while at the Bombers. How do you rate him as a coach?
I thought James was good. He has a great footy mind, and I don't think we saw his coaching potential.
Mark "Bomber" Thompson was another coach you played under at Essendon. What did you think of Bomber as a coach?
Bomber was a good person to me. He instilled a lot of confidence in me as a player.
Another coach you had at the Bombers was John Worsfold. What was your opinion of him?
Woosha was there to steady the ship after the drug scandal.
It was a tough time at the club at that stage but considering everything; I think he did a good job.
Woosha had the players' backs all the time.
It's been well-documented the impact COVID had on the AFL, but what did it do to Marty Gleeson?
It was a tough time. I can vividly remember in 2020; we were in lockdown on the Gold Coast for three months.
Carlton and the Bulldogs were also at the resort we were staying at; there was just so much uncertainty, and I think that's what really impacted not only the players but also officials.
We also had three weeks in lockdown over in Perth because of COVID.
Marty, your AFL career came to an end in 2021. Do you have any regrets about your career at the elite level?
I suppose the only thing is I would have loved to have played 100 games for Essendon, but I fell three games short on 97 games. I'm proud of what I achieved with the Bombers.
Injuries probably underpinned my career, but that's footy.
I've been very lucky to have met some really great people in my time at the Bombers, and many are still friends to this day.
I take it you would have watched with interest the off-field developments at Essendon since the 2022 season ended for them back in August. What's your spin on the events?
I can't say much because I was not there this season.
The only thing I can say is I've got a lot of respect for David Barham, who has taken over as the club president.
I'm sure David is trying his best to ensure the club has success on and off the field in the future.
Marty, you played footy at University Blues in 2022. Have you got any thoughts about coming back to play at Koroit?
The short answer is no. I really enjoyed playing with University Blues this season.
I live and work in Melbourne, so it's difficult to think I can travel back each week to play with Koroit.
It was great to see the Saints win its seventh straight flag a couple of weeks ago.
It's an amazing effort by everyone involved with the club, from the players to all the officials and volunteers.
I still remember my first senior game with the Saints back in 2011; one player said, 'I've got your back', and that was Ben Goodall.
He's now played in nine premiership sides for Koroit, which is an astounding achievement by a wonderful person who richly deserves the accolades which are handed to him.
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