Jacob Gough puts the finishing touches on another chapter of his wonderful QAFL career when he plays his 200th game for Morningside on Sunday.

Friday 16 July 2010

Morningside favourite Jacob Gough adds another significant achievement to his glowing QAFL resume when he runs out for his 200th senior game at Esplen Oval on Sunday.

The triple premiership player, Grogan Medallist and longtime State representative could not have picked a bigger stage to celebrate the milestone outside September.

“You couldn’t ask for a better 200th than to be at home against Southport,” he said. “It (the milestone) does mean a lot to me because I’ve been at the club since I was six.

“It’s so good to come through the system – I used to watch the Panthers as a junior and now to be one of the old guys is quite funny. It has gone quickly.”

Gough’s favourite Morningside players growing up were the three Edwards’ – Brad, Craig and Dean –  who were all champions of the early 1990s when the Panthers played in six successive grand finals.

“It was fantastic that I eventually got to play alongside all three of them in the latter stages of their careers,” he said. “To play senior footy as a skinny 17-year-old, it’s amazing how quickly things go.

“It’s great that you see all these good young blokes coming through again now. That’s what Morningside does – brings good young guys through.

“We’ve got a great group of blokes, as well as footballers. The median age is 21 to 25 and they keep the old blokes like me young.”

Gough was given a summer trial by the Brisbane Lions as a teenager, but was a typical late maturer as a big man. In fact, he wasn’t even a ruckman at the national under 18 championships.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to have the experience of AFL footy, it’s something I dreamed of as a kid,” Gough admitted. “I gave up that dream at 23 or 24 and just concentrated on being the best player I could be for Morningside.

“I was still doing the thing I loved against some great opponents without the same pressures that players experience at AFL clubs.

“I’ve got no regrets. I did a pre-season with the Lions after playing under Craig Starcevich at the South East Bushrangers – I was a half-back flanker and centre-half-back then.”

As he kept growing, so did the pain in his knees, developing some difficult to manage tendonitis at 19.

“I only got to 194cm at 20 or 21. And then I took time to fill out,” he said. “I’ve no doubt that my best three seasons in the QAFL have been my last three.”

That is some statement considering he won the 2004 Grogan Medal and shows the quality and consistency of his performances since then.

“Big men do get better with the age,” he said. “Even though the game is a lot faster now, you learn to read it better.”

However, Gough does hark back to 2004 when pressed about the most memorable individual performances that he has produced over his long career. It was in a State game against the ACT in Canberra.

“It was freezing cold, we started at about 9am before an AFL game, I played at centre-half-forward in the first half and didn’t get near it. I think my hands went numb and we were 20 or 30 points behind at halftime,” Gough said.

“(Coach) Danny Craven threw me into the ruck in the second half, I kicked two or three goals, we won and I felt like I had a pretty good influence on the game.”

His best moment in the game, however, was as recent as late last September, when the Panthers won a tough grand final against Mt Gravatt.

“The 2003 and 2004 wins were awesome, especially 2004 when we had to work so hard and won a close ‘granny’,” he said. “But after the loss in ‘08, to lift the cup up with Kent (Abey) as co-captain was such an honour.

“Maybe I appreciated it more because I’m getting older. It was on my (29th) birthday as well, so it was the highlight of my footy career.”

Gough’s longevity and quality of performance is remarkable considering he trains only intermittently with the Panthers.  He moved to the Gold Coast several years ago, and business interests have made it difficult to commute regularly.

“I do my own stuff when I can,” he said, before revealing his secret. “More than 50% of the game is more mental than physical.

“That’s an area I am looking forward to working in with young players, not necessarily in a coaching capacity, in the future.

A lot of footy is played in the head. I was fortunate enough a few years ago to get some advice that helped with my business, personal and football life and I wish I had got that when I was 17 or 18.”

His milestone game is sure to be a memorable one.

“There’s a lot riding on it – it’s a massive game,” Gough agreed.  “The boys don’t need any extra motivation but hopefully they will dig deep. I wouldn’t want to be chaired off the ground on the losing side. “

Southport won the first encounter at Fankhauser Reserve by 13 goals against a depleted Panthers line-up and face a vastly different combination this time.

“We had five or six key players out last time and were missing a lot of pace,” said Gough, who believes his side’s run from defence is a key.  “They ‘got’ us in the midfield last time and we are a bit more prepared this time around.”

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