Thursday 31 March 2011

Tenacious Southport vice-captain Glenn Screech is hoping his 100-game milestone lasts a lot longer than his debut.

The clever midfield utility notches his century at a historic time, celebrating in the Sharks’ first ever game in the North East Australian Football League against Broadbeach at H&A Oval on Sunday.

His first game for Southport was a 16-year-old in another Gold Coast derby, this time against Labrador, and his playing time lasted exactly 15 minutes.

Showing the courage for which he has become renowned, Screech ran back with the flight of the ball and was crudely collected by an oncoming opponent, which earned the Tigers player a four-week suspension.

Screech missed the rest of the game and the following match with a heavy concussion.

He was made an emergency for the 2005 grand final, but was part of the ‘teen machine’ that defied all expectations to win a glorious 2006 pennant.

That game, where the Sharks shook off the Zillmere Eagles despite kicking into a stiff breeze in the last term, remains Screech’s career highlight.

“It was big – it was a hell of a last quarter and we had such a young side,” Screech said. “We had lost nine players from the 2005 side and no-one expected us to do it.”

Screech’s lasting memory of the 2008 grand final is of conceding a 150-metre penalty that temporarily stalled his side’s last quarter fightback against Morningside.

“My heart sunk when the umpire called the ball back (to 35m from Morningside’s goal) when we were having a shot at the other end,” Screech cringed.

In one of those classic controversial football moments, Screech is adamant it was not a free kick, although the umpire received full marks after the game.

Ironically, it was a good mate in Haydn Wilson who Screech says started the scuffle that resulted in the free.

Irrespective, the Sharks stormed home and Screech became a dual premiership player.

His ability around goal and to play a role in defence if required has made him a valuable commodity throughout his five seasons with the Sharks, where his leadership qualities were on show from a young age.

Screech was made co-captain of the State Under 21 side in 2007 and played his part in a memorable come from behind win over the VAFA in Melbourne.

He still harbours ambitions to go one better and play for the open team, and no time would be better than this season with Queensland playing WA in Mandurah.

Screech grew up in Perth and played junior representative football in the Subiaco region, before moving across the country.

“Hopefully I can have a good season and sneak in there somewhere,” he said.

Screech has proven to be an iron man to reach the 100 games in such quick time considering his former occupations.

With his father having owned cray boats in WA, Screech gained a boat license early and has piloted commercial boats and charters for a number of years.

He managed the marina at Couran Cove for a while and regularly worked Saturday nights in the football season driving ferries to North and South Stradbroke Island.

Now a car and motorbike yard auction manager, he is not missing the 12-hour shifts through the night on top of a game of football.

He is relishing the return of Norm Dare to the coaching ranks after starting his career under the wily veteran.

“He has always been a tough coach with high expectations. I have thoroughly enjoyed him coming back,” Screech said.

Dare reciprocated that respect by appointing Screech in the leadership team.

“I was vice-captain last year with two other players so to be singled out was a big thing and a privilege,” Screech said.

The Sharks have missed the QAFL grand final for the past two years and Screech isn’t expecting life to be any easier in the NEAFL.

“Everyone has recruited strongly. It will even out the competition and make it a lot fiercer,” he said.

He admitted there is an added pressure representing the Sharks because of their success.

“We have been a top side for a lot of years and a very successful club, particularly when you consider our facilities and financial status,” he said.

“Everybody wants to beat us and we are a target every week.”

Facing Broadbeach at Broadbeach is never easy and it should be a memorable day all-round for Screech at H&A Oval on Sunday.

“There is always a big rivalry with the Coast derbies and it will be a good challenge,” he said.

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