RAY TREBILCOCK was a bit of a journeyman throughout his football career but the speedy midfielder/defender boasts an impressive career. Trebilcock represented six different leagues in representative football which could be an unofficial record. He was also a talented cricket player and more recently lawn bowler. The 71-year-old caught-up with The Border Mail's BRENT GODDE.
BRENT GODDE: You have an unusual surname, I'm guessing you would have copped a bit of flak about it along the way?
RAY TREBILCOCK: My nickname which stuck from a young age is 'three dicks'. My father, Cliff, was also called the same. It's never really worried me.
BG: You were born and bred in Geelong?
RT: I was lucky enough to win a few flags as a junior in the under-15s and under-18s.
BG: You were also lucky enough to represent the Geelong and district league?
RT: We played the Ballarat league in 1970.
BG: For those who didn't see you play, how would you describe yourself as a footballer?
RT: I was a dedicated footballer and probably my leg speed was my greatest asset. Because I was so quick I could find space and have time to deliver the ball.
BG: What position did you predominantly play?
RT: Mainly in the centre early in my career and then off a back-flank as I got a bit older.
BG: You also played under-19s for Geelong in the VFL?
RT: In 1969 I played under-19s and two matches in the reserves. A couple of my team-mates in Rod Blake and Bruce Nankervis went on to play seniors for Geelong.
BG: You got to play on every ground in the VFL except for the MCG?
RT: It's a bit of a regret of mine but the day we were meant to play at the MCG I was out injured unfortunately.
BG: After one season in the under-19s at Geelong you decided to switch clubs and join Acton in the Canberra league?
RT: Col Trevaskis got the coaching job who I had previously played against. He asked me if I would be interested in joining him as an assistant coach.
BG: No doubt a big move at such a young age?
RT: Looking back it was and I loved the lifestyle and going to the beach at Geelong. But my uncle, Peter Trebilcock, was living in Canberra and I moved in with him and his family for a while.
BG: Acton were the league whipping boys at the time?
RT: The first season we were there we were on the end of some terrible hidings and finished with the wooden spoon.
BG: Trevaskis was able to turn things around in his second year in charge?
RT: We got beat in the first semi-final which was a vast improvement. Tom Doolan was one of my team-mates that season.
BG: You rated Trevaskis highly as a coach?
RT: Col was a terrific footballer but could also coach. He had an awkward kicking style but was one of the best tap ruckman running around in the competition.
BG: You played against Alan 'Bongo' Bongetti while in Canberra?
RT: 'Bongo' was coaching at the time and was a prolific goalkicker. Every time you played against him he would seem to bob up with six to eight goals.
BG: You also represented the league?
RT: In my first season we played against Queensland and the second year it was against Essendon. Des Tuddenham was coach of the Bombers and beat us by four points.
BG: After two seasons in Canberra you once again follow Trevaskis who was appointed coach of Leeton in 1974.
RT: Leeton were in the South-West league at the time and it was a high standard of football.
BG: You also represented the South-West league?
RT: We played against the Murray league the first year. In 1975 I represented NSW in the state championships in Sydney which I rate as a career highlight.
BG: How did Leeton go?
RT: We finished just outside the finals in 1974.
BG: A young Terry Daniher and Ricky Quade were running around in the league at the time before starting their VFL careers?
RT: It was a strong league at the time with a lot of talent.
BG: The following season in 1975 you suffered a sickening injury?
RT: I got kicked in the crown jewels and had to endure a very rough ride in the ambulance from Ariah Park to the Leeton hospital.
BG: You had to spend three days in hospital?
RT: The crown jewels were so swollen the doctor wouldn't let me go home until the swelling subsided.
BG: A nurse had to rub ointment on your crown jewels every couple of hours to help reduce the swelling?
RT: I remember she asked my name and when I said Ray Trebilcock she burst out laughing and said 'don't be so stupid.'
BG: The doctor advised you not to play football again?
RT: He was of the opinion if I copped another knock that I mighn't be able to have kids. But I ended up having four kids, so the twig and berries were working fine.
BG: Luckily you were able to make a comeback that season because Leeton won the flag?
RT: We probably went into the decider as underdogs but we were able to produce an upset and beat Turvey Park.
BG: You featured highly in the best players?
RT: It was a big occasion for the club and we were basically given the keys to the city and the celebrations were huge. Tom Doolan was also in the side.
BG: Both Col and yourself got married in Leeton?
RT: We did but it's no secret that we are both divorced now as well.
BG: After winning the flag you were appointed coach of Lavington in the Tallangatta league in 1976?
RT: It was my first senior coaching gig and I also represented the Tallangatta league. I had coached the Leeton reserves the previous year.
BG: The Tallangatta league would have been a lower standard than you were used to playing?
RT: It was a tough competition and you were made to earn your kicks. Especially against Mitta United at Mitta where the crowd could be fairly hostile.
BG: How hostile are we talking?
RT: I got cans thrown at me from spectators but fortunately I never wore one. One of the O'Connell's was coaching Mitta at the time.
BG: How did Lavington go that season?
RT: We got beat in the second semi-final by Kiewa-Sandy Creek at Lavington Sportsground. The Hawks went on to win the flag.
BG: The Hawks boasted some star players?
RT: Ray Smedley was coach, Brian Gilcrist and Vin O'Neill were also playing.
BG: The following season in 1977, Lavington crossed to the Farrer league and Wayne Styles was appointed coach?
RT: I'm still good mates with Wayne. He was a terrific coach who was big on discipline and fitness. Wayne seemed to get the best out of his players but you had to be fit.
BG: How did you find the Farrer league?
RT: I really enjoyed the competition and playing against those Wagga sides. Warren Sykes was one of the best players that I have seen running around in the bush.
BG: You also represented the Farrer league?
RT: In 1978 I was named in the NSW state championships again and was the only Lavington player picked. But unfortunately I got injured in the lead-up and missed out on playing.
BG: You were also a talented cricketer who represented the ABCA in 1978-79?
RT: We got to play on most grounds in Melbourne during country week which was a good experience. I played alongside Joe Wooding who was captain-coach, Garry Purtell and a couple of Arendarcikas'.
BG: You also played cricket for South Woden when you were living in Canberra?
RT: I got a hat-trick and ended up taking 7/25. I was first change bowler to Simon Overland who would go on to be Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police. Simon was off 18 paces and as quick as buggery.
BG: In 1979 you were part of the Lavington side in its inaugural season in the O&M?
RT: Wayne was coach and it was a terrific experience playing in the O&M against some good sides. The two Wangaratta sides were the powerhouses of the competition at the time.
BG: Osborne were on the lookout for a coach in 1980 and Tiger president Gary O'Connell came knocking on your door?
RT: I met Gary twice before I accepted the position. It was the best thing I ever did in my career. I rate Osborne the best club that I have played at. I replaced Rob Mackie at the helm.
BG: Did you know much about Osborne before you accepted the position?
RT: Not really. It was a bit of an eye-opener when I first went out there. I went from a brand new facility at Lavington to a club in the middle of nowhere with a tin shed for a change room and an oval that had a surface like cement.
BG: You regarded yourself as a bit of a prankster throughout your career?
RT: One of my better pranks was when I was coach of Osborne. I was working with Frank Boyd at Murray Grey Butchery in South Albury. One day I decided to take a pig's head out to training with me.
BG: I like where this prank is heading..
RT: I whacked it in Frank Cremmins' bag. It was priceless when he found it. I reckon his head nearly hit the roof, he jumped that high.
BG: You were also the victim of a prank at Osborne?
RT: I was in the shower after training one night and Richard Smith put a frilled neck lizard in my bag. I went to get my towel out of my bag and got the shock of my life because I was petrified of snakes and lizards.
BG: Smith wasn't finished with you?
RT: Richard picked the lizard up, so I did the dash for cash and ran out of the change rooms naked and he proceeded to chase me around the oval with the lizard much to the enjoyment of all the players.
BG: The following season in 1981 you stepped down as coach after being replaced by Wayne Styles?
RT: I stayed as a player and was happy to play under Wayne again. Wayne was able to land a stack of recruits including Barry Furness, 'Flea' Culph, Tony Styles, Steve Steele and Frank Boyd.
BG: Walla players dubbed Osborne 'The Foreign Legion'?
RT: The Boxheads called us that because we had so many players from in town playing at the club.
BG: Walla boasted a handy side?
RT: They had some star players in Phil and Pat Godde and Lance Cushion.
BG: You faced Walla in the grand final?
RT: We ended up getting beat by three goals. I reckon it was the first time our forwards had been quiet all season and that was the difference in the end.
BG: You would have had some memorable road trips home from Osborne?
RT: We used to toss a coin to see who would be the designated driver while the rest of us got on the stubbies. Most times we would call into the Walbundrie Pub on the trip home to grab a few more travellers.
BG: You copped a fractured cheekbone while playing for Osborne?
RT: It happened in an off-the-ball incident against East Lavington. I won't name the player responsible. My cheekbone was fractured in three different places.
BG: Did Osborne cite the player responsible?
RT: I went to the police and filed civil action against the player.
BG: It sparked an all-in-brawl at the time?
RT: A lot of my team-mates were keen to fly the flag and the East Lavington player ended up copping a bit of a touch-up.
BG: The East Lavington player had to face court?
RT: Unfortunately I couldn't make court on the date of the hearing, so the charges were dropped.
BG: How many matches did you end up missing?
RT: I missed five weeks. I wore headgear for the rest of the season. The surgeon had to insert a rod into my cheekbone so it could heal properly.
BG: You made some lifelong friendships at Osborne?
RT: I was fortunate to have met the O'Connell's and Col and Carol Bahr. I also played alongside George Chomatek who sadly passed away last year and I used to play bowls against him.
BG: The following season in 1982 you returned to Canberra?
RT: I was appointed assistant coach under Syd Jackson who had retired from Carlton. Syd was in the twilight of his career but could still do his trademark blind turn when he needed to get out of trouble.
BG: Jackson would have been a star of the competition?
RT: The opposition used to heavily target him and he was made to earn every kick.
BG: You got on well with Jackson?
RT: We used to go to the pub a bit and play golf. Syd was an all round sportsman and played off scratch in golf and would always teach me a lesson when we played together.
BG: Jackson could obviously play but wasn't as good at coaching?
RT: Syd wasn't a very good communicator and struggled to get his message across at the breaks. I ended up addressing the players most of the time.
BG: Jackson ended up quitting mid-season?
RT: Syd basically packed up his stuff and left Canberra without telling anyone. I had to coach for the rest of the season.
BG: No doubt the story would have made headlines at the time?
RT: The media were all over it but the club covered it up and said he had stood down because of family reasons which wasn't the truth.
BG: Did you like dealing with the media throughout your career?
RT: My team-mates used to tell me that I must have been paying the editor of the newspaper at Leeton because I seemed to get a mention most of the time.
BG: You coached again in 1983?
RT: I did but I was plagued by a hamstring injuries for most of the year. I retired at the end of the season.
BG: How old were you when you retired?
RT: I was 33 which was probably a bit young but my hamstrings were shot.
BG: After you retired, you decided to take up umpiring?
RT: I used to love umpiring because you were a big part of the game. I knew all the rules from my playing days and umpiring was something that just came naturally to me.
BG: You umpired the grand final in Canberra in 1985?
RT: It was a bit of an honour at the time and obviously what you strive for as an umpire.
BG: You returned to the border in 1991 and remained an umpire with the Albury-Wodonga umpires?
RT: I used to love that because we also umpired the Riverina league. There were a lot of familiar faces from when I played in the old South-West league.
BG: You umpired against your former side in Leeton?
RT: That was a funny day because the Leeton supporters who knew me were sledging me all day from the sidelines and we had a bit of fun.
BG: You also umpired alongside Roy Fulford?
RT: Roy and I did an Upper Murray league grand final one year.
BG: I'm guessing Fulford would have been a lippy umpire?
RT: Lippy and limpy because he had a bung knee. Roy and I were from the same handbook in that we wouldn't tolerate any backchat from the players. We didn't mind getting the yellow and red cards out on a regular basis.
BG: You were involved in an unsavoury incident when umpiring at Yackandandah?
RT: There were two twins playing for Yackandandah who I won't name but they both manhandled me as I was walking off for the half-time break.
BG: You reported the pair?
RT: They both copped six weeks at the tribunal. It was in the seniors and you would think the players would have known better.
BG: You were missing a shoe after you umpired one particular match?
RT: I umpired Scots School under-17s by myself one day and personally I thought I did a good job by myself until I went into the changerooms to have a shower.
BG: What happened?
RT: I got out of the shower and got dressed and I couldn't find one of my shoes. I eventually found it - somebody had chucked it in the toilet which I was fuming about at the time.
BG: You father got involved in a scuffle with a spectator when he went to watch you umpire at Osborne one day?
RT: Dad came out with me and one of the spectators was into me all day about my surname and calling me 'six balls' and stuff like that. Dad decided to take matters into his own hands and ended up having a scuffle with the spectator and teaching him a few manners.
BG: You umpired alongside some legendary whistleblowers?
RT: I was fortunate enough to do a few games with 'Banjo' Pattison, 'Boola' Mannering, Tony Lade, Gavin Rixon and Graham Edwards
BG: You also had a stint of playing cricket with the Tavern Bulldogs in the Hume league competition?
RT: We won the flag in 1994 and I finished my cricket career on a high. I used to love the social aspect of playing in the competition.
BG: What would you consider the highlight of your career?
RT: I'm fairly proud that I got to represent every league that I played in. I used to love the challenge of testing myself against the best players of other leagues.
BG: Have you got any regrets?
RT: Other than missing the chance to play on the MCG early in my career, not really. I enjoyed my sporting career and wouldn't change too many things about it.
BG: Did you ever get reported?
BG: Any memorable footy trips away?
RT: I didn't go on a lot of footy trips but went to Melbourne with Osborne one year which was a bit of fun at the time.
BG: Do you get to the local footy much these days?
RT: I go and watch Lavington when I can and am impressed by the new facilities.
BG: Who would you consider your home club?
RT: Probably Lavington because that's where I played most of my cricket as well.
BG: You also love your bowls?
RT: I remember I won the North Albury triples title alongside Mark 'Tortoise' Mulcahy and Gerald 'Turtle' O'Brien one year.
BG: You were surprised to win the title?
RT: When you are playing alongside a 'Tortoise' and a 'Turtle' you can never be confident about winning anything.
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