In Their Words – George Hampson Round 4

Friday, April 26, 2019 - 9:46 PM by George Hampson

WELL, here we are. The 2019 season is in full swing and although only three rounds in, there has been plenty that appeals about a youthful Swan Districts side in its second year under coach Adam Pickering. 

Although we are yet to register that elusive first win, we have played some tantalising football through Rounds 1-3 against quality opposition and although yet to break through, I feel a string of wins is not far away at all. As we all know, bad kicking is bad football and on more than one occasion this year, we have unfortunately been our own worst enemy.

Being a new player to the group came as a surprise to me after having a strong year on a personal front which culminated in my first Lynn Medal as East Fremantle’s fairest and best player for the 2018 season. I had a wonderful relationship with not only the playing group but also the coaching staff, made some friendships for life and thoroughly enjoyed my time at the club. Given the club’s lack of success in recent times, Rob Wiley stood down off his own accord mid-year, a man I consider a dear friend after my time under him. The club eventually appointed recently sacked West Perth coach Bill Monaghan, much to everyone’s surprise.

After the first three training sessions of the 2019 pre-season, winning the endurance test in my first but starting to feel sciatic nerve issues related to my hamstrings in the next few, I thought it the best time early in the piece to initiate a meeting with the new head coach and existing fitness staff, who assisted me to stay injury free throughout 2018. To me, this meeting was already touching on discussions I had held with Bill when he took me out for coffee prior to the commencement of pre-season, assuring me he was more than happy to work with players to allow them to play the best football for the club week on week. 

Somehow, three weeks later he had completely forgotten discussions already held. Bill was unable to converse and simply pointed out it was "his way or the highway" and told me not so politely to leave and never come back. What followed that night was him sending a group message to all players stating he had moved me on only a matter of hours after I had completed a full training session. As you can imagine, the playing group could not believe it and tried everything to reverse the damage done. Unfortunately it was too late.

Leaving Subiaco at the start of the 2015 season, just after winning a premiership in 2014 was a hard decision in itself, as my relationship with the coach worsened. Now it was happening all over again, a feeling of Deja-vu swept over me. This time around, I had comfort within myself as this was conspired by a new coach who had formed pre-conceived ideas prior to ever knowing me. 

Given that now I have just walked through the doors of my third WAFL club, people are completely within their rights to form their own view from afar but without knowing me personally or the situation in depth, should hold judgement. I have been raised with strong morals in a wonderful family, hold a Bachelor of Commerce from UWA and have always been brought up to not only speak my mind but stand my ground, which forms a strong foundation of who I am and how I play my football. 

I have always held strong belief! My first head coach at Subiaco, Chris Waterman, I to this day have a wonderful relationship with which eventuated in himself and good friend Paul Peos becoming my management team throughout my WAFL career in search of an AFL opportunity. Through their mentoring, I have been able to meet several top-tier clubs, and despite the fact nothing eventuated throughout my journey, was lucky enough to once again have them by my side as I transitioned to Swan Districts. 

Once I decided that I was going to continue my WAFL career, the move to Swan Districts ended up being an easy move. Although I hail from the coast and have called the beaches of Scarborough home all of my life, I have always appreciated the wonderful following Swan Districts have as a club. I had a few meetings with Phil Smart who was not only keen to get me on board in a playing sense, but also saw what I had to offer in assisting the development of the youth coming through. This involves assisting with the 16s ‘futures’ program and also focusing on promoting the strengths of the youth in the senior group, but also looking to develop their weaknesses.

Meeting coach Adam Pickering for the first time early on was somewhat different as given the Perth football community is very small, I had wondered to myself how I would be received. From the very moment I met him I knew he was the sort of person I would love to play under and that has only grown immensely from there. Adam is first and foremost a terrific person but also has the respect of the playing group and staff around him. He challenges you, but also understands people and what makes us all tick. People management skills are often underappreciated in a professional sporting environment but I have come to see this as a vital cog in any working relationship. Adam has this in spades.

Settling in over pre-season I found very easy. I have an outgoing personality and enjoy a laugh, so generally try to find common ground in new situations through humour. I have been very vocal in pre-season in what seems a generally quiet group, to find my own direction and earn respect amongst the playing group through action. The respect I have for players such as Tony Notte and Matt Riggio is profound as they have been stars of the competition for many years, so I just looked to have a positive impact on the playing group in my own way. 

Starting in a new environment is always difficult, and really understanding how each individual plays on field is paramount to team chemistry. I feel week by week I have been improving individually and with new players such as Josh Simpson and Leigh Kohlmann joining the club, we are not too far away from putting it all together on the field.

Go the Black Ducks.