In a show of solidarity between board and coach, Graham ‘Bomber’ Adams has re-signed as Sandgate coach for 2016.
It all came about late last week.
“The club approached me, they had a board meeting and they were pretty happy with what we have done so far and they wanted stability. So they came and spoke to me and I said I would do it again.” Adams said.
Adams jumped at the opportunity of 12 more months.
“There wasn’t any hesitation. I have really enjoyed it. I just think we are half way through an unfinished job,” he said.
“Our club has got a one club policy from juniors all the way through to Masters, it’s a really good place to be at the moment.”
He kept things very low key early this year, refusing continually talking about earning the respect back of the competition. Mission accomplished.
Sandgate’s improvement shouldn’t surprise anyone; Adams’ footballing resume is as impressive as they come.
At age four, down at Zillmere, one of the most successful careers in Queensland footy began.
He played junior football at Zillmere up until he was 15, when he took the next step.
For a 15 year old to debut in the senior team is a remarkable story. For that game to be the 1981 QAFL elimination final, in front of a packed house at The Gabba, makes it extraordinary.
“I was pretty nervous but it was a great experience. My first kick was a goal and I really enjoyed it,” Adams said.
For the record, he went on to win his first senior flag that year.
After over 200 games with Zillmere, two flags, and multiple finals appearances, he took on the next challenge in life.
Adams made the move to Sandgate to become their captain/coach, a club he always held close to his heart.
“My Dad played 200 games for Sandgate back in the AFLQ days, and it was always something that I always wanted to do, was go to Sandgate as some stage from Zillmere, especially with his background,” he said.
Coaching wasn’t a completely new thing to Adams at the time. Although he had never coached at senior level, he had plenty of experience coaching junior representative teams like the Northern Raiders.
He took Sandgate to multiple finals series in his time at the helm, but couldn’t achieve the Holy Grail.
At 36, after near on 100 games, it was time to hang up the boots.
It wasn’t just Sandgate and Zillmere where Adams made his name as one of the toughest on-ballers in Queensland. He pulled on the Queensland jumper 22 times across his playing career, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a bad game.
“I was always lucky that I always seemed to play alright in the state games even if I wasn’t playing quite so well at club level, they would pick me in the state side and I would have a good game,” Adams said.
Once his playing days were over, walking away from the game was never an option.
He gave back to the game he loved, becoming a junior coach at Sandgate, with some pretty handy results to follow.
“I predominantly coached under 16 division 1 football. Through that period we played in seven grand finals in a row, all against Morningside, and we won a few,” he said.
“It was pretty intense, it was a great rivalry, but it was enjoyable at the same time.
“That sort of kept my hand involved in the last seven or eight years, and I still had a fair bit to do with junior representative sides.”
That leads us to today.
When the club needed someone at the end of the 2014 season, he was there to put his hand up, stepping into the senior coaching role with immediate success.
“I just felt that I could make a difference. I am a pretty loyal Sandgate person and I wanted to try and get us heading forward and becoming a really competitive club again,” Adams said.
Having such an extensive role in the junior aspect of the club means he has been able to form relationships with a large chuck of the playing group in their developing years.
“I was counting them with a few of the other boys, and I think there is only three in the group that I haven’t coached. Even on Aspley’s list, there is probably 12 or 13 that I have coached while they were at Sandgate,” he said.
“I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing the guys play some good footy at senior level. It’s really rewarding.
“There are a couple of boys that I think could have gone off the tracks either way, but they have really turned into good people, and I think a lot of that attributes to playing good footy.”
His efforts over the years haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2008, Adams was one of the inaugural inductees to the Queensland Hall of Fame, and was also one of 100 finalists for the Team of the Century between 1904 and 2003.
By his own admission, Adams likes a challenge, which was what was in front of him when he took the top job at the Hawks.
This re-signing proves that, under Bombers’ watchful eye, the club is well and truly on the right track.
Don’t forget, nominations are now open for the 2015 AFL Queensland Volunteer and Coach of the Year Awards. Click here to nominate.
By Andrew Wiles – @andrewjwiles