The start of something special

It took the Tigers only two weeks to win their first match in the GFL, a thrilling one-point triumph against Geelong West.

The Colac Tigers will tomorrow aim to capture their second premiership since the club joined the Geelong Football League in 2001. We caught up with Colac’s inaugural GFL coach Matt McCartin to reflect on the club’s shift down the highway to the GFL from the Hampden league almost two decades ago.


Are the Tigers fair dinkum?

Can they make the finals?

Are they kidding themselves joining the Geelong Football League?

Matt McCartin was ultimately the man responsible for those questions posed by the Colac Herald after signing on to lead the club during its first season in the GFL in 2001.

Not since the merger between Colac and Coragulac in 1980 had there been so much hype surrounding the club, after Tigers officials decided to shift from the Hampden league to the GFL.

“Like everything, the traditionalists felt that Colac’s home was the Hampden footy league because they’d been there for a fair period of time and had some success,” McCartin said.

“Coming into the GFL was new, but I think that created a level of excitement, and the fact that so many people migrated down to Geelong opposed to Warrnambool, there was a real opportunity.

“You can see it now with the points system that Colac had a real advantage, it was a town against club’s like St Mary’s and St Joseph’s, who don’t really have that community feel.

“The players were super excited about it.”

The Tigers, led by then president Tony Hickey and Nick Lang, headhunted McCartin to coach the club.

McCartin was a Forrest football product who had played junior and senior football with Colac before starting a journey in the sport which included a year on Geelong’s AFL list and coaching stints in Tasmania.

The father of current AFL footballers Paddy and Tom McCartin said the club was eager to lure local talent back to Central Reserve, which was a motivating factor behind moving leagues.

“Nick Lang wasn’t the president at the time, but he sort of ran the footy department and saw that I knew how GFL footy was played because I’d coached St Joeys the previous year,” McCartin said.

“But I was also a Colac boy, I’d played junior footy and started seniors there before I left to do other things.

“We were able to attract Paul Lynch back to the club which was huge,” he said.

“Ken Roberts was at Leopold, Steven Moore, “Digger”, was at Newtown, Spike (Michael) Parker was at another GFL club, and Mark Whelan came back and played, so it was an opportunity for Colac to get those homegrown guys back.”

See today’s Colac Herald for more.

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