Tiger champion Gleeson goes full circle

You could hardly dream up a more fitting candidate than Dom Gleeson to present Werribee’s debutants with their first-game jumpers at the club’s season-opening clash with Geelong.

With the match to be played at Spring Creek Reserve, home of the Torquay Football Club, Gleeson ticks all the right boxes. The former Werribee captain, games record holder, and two-time best and fairest played nine VFL seasons with the Tigers and three with the Cats, where he also served as captain before taking on the role of playing coach with Torquay (incidentally, also known as the Tigers) in the Bellarine Football League in 2015.

Despite his obvious credentials, the ever-modest Gleeson describes being asked to perform the ceremonial role as “very humbling”.

“Not too long ago, I was handed a jumper for my first game for Werribee, so I’m lucky to be on the other side of it,” Gleeson says.

“[There are some] mixed emotions, actually. It reminds you just how old you are and how quickly football moves.”

Having been involved in the initial discussions about the possibility of Torquay playing host to the match, Gleeson says the club didn’t take much convincing. Scheduled to take on rivals Ocean Grove on Saturday, the BFL Tigers were this year denied their traditional Easter Monday home fixture and so were eager to fill the void.

"We’re really keen,” says Gleeson. “We’ve got one of the best facilities in Geelong, if not in country Victoria, that we want to showcase – what better weekend than Easter?”

He also believes the long weekend in Torquay should provide both the home side and the host club with a good opportunity to draw a crowd.

“It’s interesting with the Easter weekend down in Torquay. I think [the population] might swell from 20,000 to about 120,000 over the weekend with people coming down, and obviously you’ve got the Bells Beach surfing competition on.

“I think with that traffic going by, the game will collect quite a few.”

Naturally, Gleeson expects the local crowd largely to lean towards Geelong given the strong support for the Cats in the region, but he also expects a significant Werribee presence given the talent that has moved back and forth between the Wyndham and Geelong areas in recent years.

As for his own allegiances, he could be forgiven for feeling as though his loyalties are somewhat divided, but he’s simply looking forward to the opportunity to enjoy a cracking game of footy.

“Obviously, I’ve got a soft spot for both sides; but, as you know, the VFL competition moves really fast, and players come in and out every year,” he says.

“It’s a new look-team for both clubs, and two years out of VFL footy is a long time. I’ll be just eager to see both teams go at it and see the fresh talent pool coming through.”

The match begins at 2pm, with the two sides set to contest the annual K rock Cup.

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