Jason 'Spud' Webster had a burning ambition to win a flag at Rand. Despite playing more than 300-matches with his beloved Pigeons, the ultimate success eluded him before crossing to Osborne in the twilight of his career. The lippy defender is the first to admit he wasn't the most talented player running around in the Coreen league but loved to sledge the opposition which landed him in hot water on several occasions. Webster caught-up with The Border Mail's BRENT GODDE.
BRENT GODDE: You are well-known for your nickname 'Spud'?
JASON WEBSTER: Terry Griffin dubbed me that when I was in kindergarten at Rand Public School. There were nine girls and myself in the class and I was the smallest. Terry said 'look at that little spud' and it stuck.
BG: Your father, Don, is a life member of Rand?
JW: Dad played more than 300 matches with the Pigeons but unfortunately never won a flag.
BG: Your brother, Peter, won a best and fairest at Rand?
JW: Peter was born with deformed ankles and the doctors said he would be lucky to walk let alone run but he defied the odds and played more than 200 matches with the Pigeons.
BG: The family boasts a unique trifecta?
JW: Dad, Peter and myself all won a best and fairest with the Pigeons which we are proud of.
BG: You made your senior debut for Rand in 1986 as a 16-year-old?
JW: Back in that era a fair few of us would play thirds and then fill-in for the reserves.
BG: You ended up playing thirds, reserves and seniors when you played Coleambally away?
JW: We were no good and all our Albury recruits got on the juice the Friday night before the trip to Coleambally.
BG: So most of the recruits rocked up to the match nursing hangovers?
JW: Well they had organised a bus to get to Coleambally and thought they would crack a few cans on the way there.
BG: You remember the bus arriving at Coleambally while you were playing in the reserves?
JW: The bus arrived and you can hear all the senior players singing and yahooing and in good spirits after having quite a few cans and like they had already won the match.
BG: Club officials didn't see the funny side?
JW: We were at the three-quarter-time huddle in the reserves and the president comes up and says 'sorry boys, most of you are going to have to play seniors as well today, our Albury recruits aren't in a fit state.'
BG: So that's how you made your senior debut?
JW: I kicked a goal on debut which I was pumped about.
BG: Despite being only 16, you decided to celebrate your senior debut with a few frothies?
JW: My mate Glenn Collier and I decided to jump on the bus for the trip back to Rand and we got our hands on a six-pack of VB stubbies each.
BG: How many did you drop?
JW: Glenn was a bit more experienced at drinking than me. I got to Urana and was feeling quite tipsy and singing and yahooing but by the time I got to Rand I was spewing in the bus.
BG: Club officials found out about you drinking underage?
JW: I got dragged before the committee on the following Thursday night after training and they handed me a one week suspension.
BG: So you were forced to miss a week?
JW: Turns out a lot of the Albury players also got suspended and I ended up getting a reprieve and playing seniors because they were so short.
BG: What position did you predominantly play throughout your career?
JW: Mostly in a back pocket. My two biggest assets were to be able to take the ball over the boundary line and upset the opposition's full forward.
BG: You can't get away with either of those tactics these days?
JW: Yeah, I would probably have struggled to get a game if they had the same rules back then.
BG: So you were a lippy player?
JW: I used to love trying to upset the opposition, especially the full forward. I thought if I could get them to focus on trying to knock my head off instead of kicking goals I was doing my job.
BG: Did you get belted much throughout your career?
JW: Big Robbie Ferguson who was Rennie's ruckman got me one day.
BG: What did you do to rattle Ferguson's cage?
JW: He was whining about the umpiring so I said 'stop crying like a little girl' and planted a kiss on his cheek.
BG: Ferguson didn't see the funny side?
JW: Robbie literally wanted to kill me and spent the rest of day chasing me around the oval.
BG: Did Ferguson catch you?
JW: Late in the match I was in the goal square and received a lollipop handball from a teammate and Robbie came charging through and landed a good one right on my beak.
BG: Did it cause much damage?
JW: It smashed my nose. To this day whenever I see Robbie he shows me his bent finger and says 'that's from your nose, you little bastard.'
BG: Did you ever get reported throughout your career?
JW: Never, a lot of the opposition thought I was a dirty player but I was probably a bit careless in my attack on the ball and had the mentality of see ball, get ball.
BG: How would you describe yourself as a footballer?
JW: I was determined but not very skillful and I despised getting beaten.
BG: You used to love going to football training?
JW: At training I would get 30 kicks but on a Saturday I would struggle to get two.
BG: You were involved in a funny incident early on in your career against Daysdale?
JW: Terry Mardling was a Daysdale junior but played for Rand the previous year before returning to Daysdale the following season. I was filthy on Terry for going back to Daysdale.
BG: You decided to seek a bit of revenge on Mardling?
JW: I was out to get him but I wasn't much more than 60kg and Terry would have been 90kg and had a big boof head on him.
BG: So you were fighting well out of your weight division?
JW: That never worried me and I guess I suffered a bit from small man syndrome but I knew the only way I was going to get Terry was with a bit of a cheap shot.
BG: You pounced when you had the opportunity?
JW: It was a muddy day and Terry was on the bottom of the pack, right in front of the canteen. I thought here's my chance and bopped him on the beak as hard as I could.
BG: What was Mardling's reaction?
JW: Terry's eyes lit up like dinner plates and I knew instantly that I had made a grave mistake.
BG: You decided to cop your medicine?
JW: I knew I couldn't go toe-to-toe with the big fella so I just curled up into a ball and hoped Terry didn't cause too much damage.
BG: Did you wear a few?
JW: The funny thing was, nobody saw me hit Terry first including the spectators and everybody thought who is this big bloke picking on a kid.
BG: Your mother, Jean, wasn't impressed?
JW: Mum was in the canteen selling hot dogs and saw big Mardling flogging her little boy and decided to take matters into her own hands.
BG: Your mother stormed out onto the oval?
JW: I was lying on the ground copping a flogging from Terry and I looked up and saw a red jumper. It was mum and she was hitting Terry with her handbag.
BG: No doubt entertaining for the crowd?
JW: I got up and put my arm around mum and walked her off the ground. I said mum 'I bloody love you but do me a favour and don't ever embarrass me like that again.'
BG: The incident went down in Rand folklore?
JW: For years afterwards there was the handbag award at presentation night. Mum won it the inaugural year and after that they used to give it to the softest bloke at the club.
BG: No doubt a humiliating award for whoever received it?
JW: It went on for quite a few years but the club had to stop it in the end because blokes were getting offended.
BG: Do you remember any of your teammates who won the award?
JW: Dave Schneider who is originally for Osborne did one year. Rand was excited at the time because they had recruited a ruckman with the surname Schneider from Osborne. Turns out the Rand recruiters didn't do their homework and Dave was only a reserves player at Osborne.
BG: Daysdale supporters never forget the incident with your mother?
JW: Every time we played Daysdale there would be an old duck sitting in her car in the pocket. Whenever I went near the ball she would yell out, 'your mum won't save you today Webster you little pr*ck.'
BG: Rand was a success starved club before merging with Walbundrie in 2006?
JW: Rand's last flag was in 1945. Dad played in two losing grand finals and I also played in two losing grand finals as well as six losing preliminary finals.
BG: You had a burning ambition to win a flag with the Pigeons?
JW: I did, I would have loved nothing more than to break the premiership drought alongside a few of the locals in the Kreutzberger boys and Jason Collier to name a few.
BG: Rand had some ordinary sides during your career?
JW: We did but 1986 was the only season we ended up with the wooden spoon.
BG: You made the grand final in 1992?
JW: Up until that season I always had the impression that winning a flag at Rand was just a dream and we were destined to be the league whipping boys.
BG: You played under a lot of different coaches throughout your career?
JW: I feel like every bloke in the district has had a go at coaching Rand.
BG: Roy Fulford was one of your first senior coaches?
JW: I'm not going to bag the bloke in the paper but he sure knew how to yell and scream at the players.
BG: You credit Rick O'Connell for changing the culture when he arrived at Rand in the late 80s?
JW: Rick brought a bit of professionalism to training and the recruits he landed wanted to be part of a successful team.
BG: One of O'Connell's recruits was Simon Plunkett?
JW: Simon took over coaching from Rick who had laid the foundations for success and got us into the grand final in 1992.
BG: You let a golden opportunity slip against Rennie?
JW: We should have won the match but I still rate that the highlight of my career even though we got beat and it ended in tears.
BG: Rennie went the knuckle early in the decider?
JW: Rennie's coach Matt Ansell knocked out our centre half-forward Paul 'Scoofa' Prentice before the first bounce.
BG: You didn't get the conditions to suit?
JW: We were a young side that loved to run while Rennie was a lot more older and experienced. It poured rain and was windy as hell and it turned out to be a slogfest which didn't suit us.
BG: Did you get paid much throughout your career?
JW: I played one senior match for Osborne and received $50.
BG: You used to live next door to 'Banjo' Patterson in Lavington for several years?
JW: I always had a good relationship with 'Banjo' and thought he was a ripping bloke.
BG: No doubt 'Banjo' would have umpired you on numerous occasions?
JW: One day at Rand it was late in the match and 'Banjo' blew his whistle and said 'Rand No. 42, it's your free kick' which was me.
BG: The opposition weren't happy?
JW: They were getting stuck into Banjo and asking what the free kick was for. 'Banjo' said 'the poor little bastard hasn't had a kick all day so I thought I better give him one.'
BG: When the Murray Magpies formed and joined the Coreen league, that was a nail in the coffin for Rand?
JW: It's probably why I disliked the Magpies so much. In my opinion the club formed and had no regard for the consequences for the other Coreen league clubs like Rand.
BG: Ted Miller had previously coached Rand?
JW: Ted coached Rand to three losing preliminary finals in-a-row so the club decided they weren't going to reappoint him again.
BG: You found out about Murray Magpies joining the Coreen league while on the Rand footy trip to Bali?
JW: We were all over in Bali and unbeknown to me Ted and Oscar Gentner were on the trip and in the process of forming the Murray Magpies.
BG: Most of the original players for the Magpies were recruited from Rand?
JW: Ted basically signed most of the players who were on the trip besides myself.
BG: You found out about the Murray Magpies joining the Coreen league in the paper when you got home from Bali?
JW: I was fuming because most of the players were from Rand and they were my good mates. Blokes like Jason Vildovas, Kelvin Parnell, Damian Porter, Mark Triffett, Gus Roberts and Jamie Beattie.
BG: You confronted Miller about his recruiting blitz?
JW: I went and saw Ted and had tea with him and told him a few home truths and he tried to recruit me as well.
BG: Rand was on its knees the following season?
JW: I think we had six players for the whole club six weeks out from the start of the season.
BG: You worked with Gary Ziebell at the time?
JW: I was telling Gary we had six players and no coach and he suggested that the club approach Dave Coulston to coach because he had a lot of contacts.
BG: History says Coulston took the job?
JW: To his credit Dave had a stack of contacts and we ended up with a side even though most of them were soccer players and cricketers.
BG: You are full of admiration for Coulston and what he did?
JW: As far as I'm concerned, Dave should be awarded a life membership of Rand. He was instrumental in the community getting involved in the club again.
BG: The club landed a coup when Andrew Harvey replaced Coulston as coach?
JW: 'Harv's' would be the highest profile coach we had during my time at Rand and was able to get us to two preliminary finals.
BG: You were a big fan of Harvey?
JW: His best footy was behind him but he was a champion player in the Coreen league and a champion bloke to go with it.
BG: Harvey gave you specific instructions to rattle big 'Bundy' Cornell's cage one day against CDU?
JW: 'Bundy' was CDU's big full forward. Harvey said to me 'we can beat this mob if 'Bundy' is not on the field. It's your job to get him sent off.'
BG: You copped a spray from Harvey at the three-quarter time huddle?
JW: Harvey grabbed me by the jumper and said 'Spud you little bastard, Cornell is still on the ground, do your job.'
BG: You hadn't been able to get under Cornell's skin?
JW: It wasn't through lack of trying but 'Bundy' wasn't taking the bait. It was a muddy day and the next contest 'Bundy' was on the ground so I dropped my elbow into the region of his nose and jaw.
BG: Cornell fired up?
JW: 'Bundy' retaliated and I got a free kick which he was fuming about. Anyhow he stood on the mark and I had the waterlogged footy and accidentally kicked it into his face.
BG: That would have been like waving a red flag at a bull?
JW: 'Bundy' completely lost it and grabbed hold of me and ragged dolled me and the umpire gave him a yellow card.
BG: Cornell couldn't control his temper?
JW: 'Bundy' went off and into the changerooms and kicked the door off its hinges. He was like a raging bull and you could hear him throwing bags and the massage table.
BG: Did you win?
JW: We won the game and I won the mug for doing my job.
BG: You had to do an odd job when you got to training the next week?
JW: I got to training and Ian Kreutzberger gave me a battery drill and some screws and told me to go and fix the changeroom door.
BG: Have you crossed paths with Cornell since?
JW: I went to a school reunion at the pub in Corowa when he was publican and everyone knew the story but I didn't let on to 'Bundy' who I was.
BG: You were lucky to escape unharmed after putting your car in the creek one night?
JW: We played footy at Urana and ended up back at the Rand pub and there were a few girls there who were in town for a funeral after the publican had passed away the previous week.
BG: There was also a 21st that night at the Rand hall?
JW: Jason Washington and I were meant to go to the 21st but got talking to the girls which led to a romantic opportunity and the girls weren't invited to the party.
BG: You decided to go parking?
JW: We decided to go down to the local swimming hole and 'Washo' was in the back with two girls and I was driving with another girl in the passenger seat.
BG: The banks of the creek were slippery after a recent flood?
JW: We got close to the creek and I went to pull up and all of a sudden we were sliding into the water.
BG: You ended up in the creek?
JW: The girls were screaming but luckily we got out and the car sank to the bottom.
BG: No doubt a scary experience in the pitch dark and freezing water?
JW: Looking back we were lucky enough to escape without a tragedy.
BG: You decide to head back to the 21st?
JW: It was freezing and my mate Kelvin Parnell was out the front relieving himself so I took the opportunity to warm my hands up.
BG: News that your car had ended up in the creek spread like wildfire?
JW: Everybody knows you can't keep a secret in small country towns.
BG: Did you retrieve the car?
JW: We had to end up getting some divers from Corowa to get the car out. Obviously it was a write off.
BG: What did you think when Rand merged with Walbundrie in 2007?
JW: It had to happen and I did support it but my ambition of playing in Rand's next flag died the day the two clubs merged.
BG: You got to play your 300th match with Rand before the merger?
JW: That meant a lot to me. I got the first kick of the match and didn't get a touch after that. I have the match ball from that day in my man cave.
BG: You joined Osborne instead?
JW: I bought a farm at Osborne and live right next to the football ground. I have four boys and they all had mates playing football at Osborne as well.
BG: You built your man cave to store all your Pigeon memorabilia?
JW: My bar is named 'The Pigeon Bar.'
BG: You played one senior match at Osborne?
JW: To coach 'Micki' Buchanan's credit it only took him one match to realise that I was no good.
BG: You played in a reserves flag at Osborne?
JW: We went through undefeated.
BG: The difference in culture between the two clubs was an eye-opener?
JW: Looking back, Rand was probably social first and then football. Osborne is about football, fitness, commitment, striving to be better and then social.
BG: Your man cave is a popular destination for players and supporters after the bar at the footy club rooms shut?
JW: Before I built my man cave we used to have a few parties in my workshop and the boys would pass out and wake up the next morning with frost on their heads.
BG: Have you got any regrets throughout your career?
JW: Probably not winning a flag in 1992-93-94 when we had the side capable of doing it.
BG: In 1992 and 1993 you lost the grand final and 1994 you choked in the preliminary final?
JW: In 1994 we were 10 goals up at three-quarter time and got rolled.
BG: What happened?
JW: One of our players, Scott Curphey, ran through the Daysdale huddle at the last change and told the players what he thought of them.
BG: It sparked a stunning turnaround?
JW: Daysdale came out and kicked 11 goals in the last quarter and rolled us. The coach Simon Plunkett got sacked after that.
BG: Daysdale went on to win the flag?
JW: After we made consecutive grand finals we added two big recruits that season in David Schilg and Brett Harrison who were both league medallists and we didn't even make the decider.
BG: You are a life member at Rand?
JW: It was one of my proudest moments.
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