2023 Queensland Football Hall of Fame – Paul Sherwood

Paul Sherwood has carried a little bit of Morningside with him for 30 years. His nickname ‘Forest’ was a ‘gift’ from Panthers great Daryl Bourke and has stuck with him through five years in the QAFL, 10 years with Glenelg in the SANFL and now 15 years as a coach. And it’s not going away.

Even when the adopted Queensland football favorite turned export was inducted in August 2023 into the Glenelg Hall of Fame the accompanying profile shown on the club website called him ‘Sherwood’.

“I guess it could be worse,” said the now 47-year-old, whose 2023 induction to the Queensland Football Hall of Fame completes a rare and very special double.

It’s the culmination of a football journey that began with the juniors at Montmorency in Melbourne’s Diamond Valley League before he moved with his family to Queensland at 16 in 1992. After playing first at Morningside he had two years at Coorparoo in 1992-93. After playing in the Roos’ Under-19 premiership in ’93 the club folded and he went back to Morningside.

He broke into the seniors under coach Marty King in 1994-95 and over five years played 70 QAFL games, coming through the ranks with Mal Michael and Brett Voss.

Originally a high-flying forward, he played in 1996-97 at the Panthers under Tasmanian Stephen Goulding, who sent him to fullback. It was a life-changer. He became an under-sized but close-checking key defender who brought the ball out of the back half well. And in 1998 he played for Queensland against a Victorian Metropolitan Football League side at the Gabba in a curtain-raiser to Allies State of Origin clash with Victoria.

The Maroons, coached by King, were beaten 8-10 (58) to 12-15 (87) but Sherwood was a standout at fullback. Playing on 60-game Essendon and Sydney Swans forward Michael Werner, he caught the eye of ex-Glenelg champion and famous swimming father John Seebohm.

A 319-game dual premiership player with the SANFL Tigers and a club Hall of Famer, Seebohm had moved to Brisbane four years earlier and was doing some part-time scouting for his former club. Later to become part of the AFLQ talent pathway as a coach and enjoy the swimming success of daughter and four-time Olympian Emily.

Having also played in Morningside’s 1998 grand final loss, he decided a change of scenery would be good. So he moved to Adelaide, leaving behind parents John and Diane and older brothers Mark, who played Under-19s at Collingwood and had a run at Morningside, and David.

From the Panthers to the Tigers, a beachside club which four years earlier had sent Craig McRae to the Brisbane Bears/Lions, and counts among its Hall of Famers such names as Neil Kerley, Graham Cornes, Stephen Kernahan, Chris McDermott, Tony McGuinness, Peter Carey, Tony Hall, David Marshall and Kym Hodgeman.

Having finished 7th-7th-8th in a nine-team competition over the previous three years, Glenelg were in a rebuilding phase under coach McGuinness, a 222-game AFL player at Footscray and Adelaide. Wearing jumper #16 “because I wore #16 at Morningside”, he started in the reserves before what he called “a lucky break” and “a good piece of timing”. A humble man is ‘Forest’. And he didn’t look back.

After his first season he received a call from the Adelaide Crows, sparking hope that a mature-age call-up to the AFL wasn’t out of the question, but when that fizzled out it was all about Glenelg.

He won the Glenelg best & fairest in his third season in 2001, joining an exclusive group which included three-time winners including Stephen Kernahan, Chris McDermott, Peter Carey, Kym Hodgeman and Graham Cornes, and went on to finish top five in the B&F seven years in a row.

In 2003 he played for South Australia against Western Australia in Perth under a young Alastair Clarkson in his first season as an assistant-coach at Port Adelaide. The Croweaters won by 10 goals.

Admired and respected throughout the club, he was Glenelg vice-captain in 2004-05 and a four-year member of the club leadership group, and in 2004-05 was named in the Adelaide Advertiser Team of the Year.

After seven years in the SANFL wilderness Glenelg returned to the finals for the first time in the Sherwood era in 2007, and in 2008, after finishing minor premiers with a 16-4 record, they lost the grand final to Central Districts in his 190th game. That was enough. He hung up the boots.

He’d played at Glenelg under McGuinness in 1999-2000, Brenton Honor in 2001-02, David Noble in 2003-04 and Peter Simons and Tony Burgess in 2005, and finished under inaugural Brisbane Bears captain Mark Mickan, who he rated as “one of the greatest men I’ve ever met”.

Having learned a lot in football, it was time to put it to the test. He coached Langhorne Creek in the Great Southern League in 2009-10 and 2012, split by a 12-month stint back in Brisbane in 2011, where he was assistant-coach of the Queensland Under 18 side under David Ashkar. It was a side that included AFL draftees Josh Smith, Adam Oxley, Josh Wagner, Jackson Allen, Alex Sexton, Clay Cameron, Peter Yagmoor, Sam Michael, Andrew Boston, Tom Fields and Jordon Bourke.

He coached the Westminster Old Scholars in the SA amateurs from 2013-15, winning the flag in each of his first two years, and from 2016-18 took charge at Angaston in the Barossa Light & Gawler Football Association. Not just good win territory but good horse racing territory too. A happy man.

In 2019 he answered a call to return to Glenelg as an assistant-coach under Mark Stone, now an assistant to Chris Fagan at the Brisbane Lions, and played a key role in the Tigers’ first premiership since 1986. It was a side that sent Will Gould to Sydney via the National Draft and Brad Close to Geelong as a rookie.

Queenslander Jesse White, who’d played 127 AFL games with Sydney and Collingwood, won the B&F as Glenelg won the minor premiership, lost their first final to Port Adelaide and then beat Adelaide and Port Adelaide in the grand final. At last the premiership that had eluded him as a player.

After three years back at Westminster in 2020-21-22 Sherwood has taken his first break from football in 2023. At 47 he’s more than busy with wife Vanessa and children Ashton (14) and Saskia (10), and travelling across SA and Tasmania as a sales executive with Interface, a large carpet tile manufacturer.

His parents still live at Mt.Cotton, just around the corner from Marty King. It’s the Morningside connection. Again!

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