JOHNNO: Scott West in the Hall of Fame – now it’s time for that flag

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    Until half an hour before it happened, I had no idea that one of my best mates was about to make it into the AFL Hall of Fame.

    Driving home listening to the radio, I heard Tony Jones mention seeing Scott West and his family arriving at the induction ceremony in Canberra.

    I left ‘Westy’ a voicemail and got on the phone to another former teammate, Rohan Smith. We were absolutely pumped for him.

    At the Western Bulldogs, the three of us wore numbers 5, 6, and 7, and sat next to each other in the locker room every day for a decade and a half.

    But our friendship began in my first year, when I followed Westy around for so long that he was basically forced to become my mate.

    My first pre-season was at the end of 1993, and Westy had arrived as a senior player the year before. I knew who he was, having sat as a spectator to watch him kick six goals at the Whitten Oval against Essendon.

    I remember sitting down with our coach Terry Wheeler, and he pointed me in Westy’s direction. As a younger player you hang around with the guys of your age, but Scott was already setting a standard with his training and intensity.

    His hands were unbelievable; they were so good. In the early days, it was great playing on the wing next to Westy, because you always knew where it was going to go. He was the one doing the grunt work on a weekly basis.

    Westy didn’t get the crowd’s attention, but he was so skilful in the way that he worked with the ruckman. He was the clearance architect for so many years; every time you ran back for a centre bounce it was Westy setting everything up.

    Admittedly we used to have a bit of fun reminding him he wasn’t the longest kick going around. The thing was, he was extremely accurate, meaning he was effective by foot over 30 to 40 metres. That’s still the most important area in footy today.

    Westy was undervalued in the early part of his career, as so many midfielders were. It really wasn’t until behind-the-goals footage came along that people began to appreciate how hard the top midfielders run. These days we’ve got the GPS to back it up.

    Scott’s great attribute, though, was consistency. The coaches rated most of his games as at least seven or eight out of ten, and almost never below five.

    That’s why, of his 324 games, he had 25 possessions or more in 194 of them.

    That’s why he won seven best-and-fairests, five All-Australian jumpers, and just missed out on a couple of Brownlows, polling 175 votes in his career.

    We used to roll up to best-and-fairest night just waiting to listen to Westy have another go at an acceptance speech.

    The only thing missing from that CV is a premiership, and that’s something that everyone from our team feels the loss of. I would so much have loved to have stood up there with Westy on that final day of the season.

    It still hurts him – he said as much in his Hall of Fame interview. Scott was always intense about the contest.

    He was an outstanding basketballer, but even with badminton or table tennis during recovery sessions, anyone who turned up to play knew it would be hard fought.

    But he was also the ultimate team man. In the first year we did a team-building exercise at his mum and dad’s house in Essendon – a 19 year old opening up his house to a whole team. From then on, he would open his door to any player throughout his career.

    Teams need to grow together as a group. Westy emphasised this when the club was down, so when we did turn the corner and start playing some really good footy again, we were a tight-knit group of guys who would do anything for each other.

    When I was captain, Scott was the one I would go regularly to ask for input. He was so attuned to what players needed at what time – whether that meant a challenge or a bit of fun, whether we should pick up training on a certain aspect or relax for a little while.

    He’s taken that into his coaching as well, doing great things at Werribee. I’m confident that in 12 months he’ll be coaching in the AFL system.

    I look back – at Scott, at Rohan, at Chris Grant – and think, that’s who I learned the game from as teammates. Quality people, not just quality players. Those guys gave everything, not only to improve themselves but to improve those around them.

    So to Westy: it’s an amazing achievement, and well and truly deserved. The next step for you is to be a senior coach one day, you’ve got the right attributes to take a club forward and search for that flag.

    It’s just a shame the induction wasn’t in Melbourne so we could enjoy a quiet beverage to celebrate.

    Brad Johnson
    Brad Johnson

    Six-time All-Australian Brad Johnson is a former Western Bulldogs captain, Team of the Century member, and played a record 364 games for the club. He now commentates for Fox Footy and writes for The Roar.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • June 6th 2013 @ 3:06pm
      geoff pattison said | June 6th 2013 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

      Great article Johnno! A s a hawk supporter i often marvelled at West’s endurance and skill. The fact that i cant recall a derogatory word ever being written or spoken of him is a testament to his standing in the game. I am sure the football public welcome him to the Honoured position in the Hall of Fame. A successful coaching career should see him to Legend status in years to come.
      Every club should have a quality person like Scott West in their ranks.
      Congratulations and well done Scott

      Patto

      • June 7th 2013 @ 1:38pm
        Brad Johnson said | June 7th 2013 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

        As a team mate i marvelled at what he was able to produce as well. He was a real inspiration on the field and made us all walk that little bit taller.

    • June 6th 2013 @ 3:12pm
      fatboi said | June 6th 2013 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

      Johnno great article on Scott West. I’m still a wee bit upset that Scott was not given another year or two in 2008 when he retired, The Doggies were genuine premiership chances on 2008, and with the squad they had would be right up there the next couple of seasons. I still wonder what a difference a properly “managed” Scott West would have on the Dogs in 09-10, his tenacious appetite for winning the ball at stoppages was to be frank, world class and in the heat of finals footy, incredibly valuable.
      West was a delight to watch for many years, sure he was not flashy like the rest but his ability to win the hard ball from a ball up or stoppage or a contested pack situation and dish it off to release a teammate towards goal was genius at work.
      I hope you continue to keep writing these stories about your club and the players you played with at the Dogs, they are wonderfully entertaining, and good to see Westy still involved in football as the senior coach of Weribbee in the VFL

      • June 6th 2013 @ 6:07pm
        Stavros said | June 6th 2013 @ 6:07pm | ! Report

        His body gone at the end of 2008 though. I’m pretty sure on reflection he admitted that himself.

        • June 6th 2013 @ 6:11pm
          fatboi said | June 6th 2013 @ 6:11pm | ! Report

          perhaps. but Scotty clearly was disappointed to be cut so coldly by the Dogs. To be fair, a club legend like him deserved to call his own time. He deserved in the very least, a preseason to prove his body was still right and i felt the club owed him.

          • June 6th 2013 @ 6:39pm
            Stavros said | June 6th 2013 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

            Fair call. It’s a shame he didn’t win the 2006 Brownlow, as it would have elevated him even further as a player.

    • Columnist

      June 7th 2013 @ 1:13pm
      Geoff Lemon said | June 7th 2013 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

      I always enjoyed watching Scott West play – he was one of the kind who never drop their heads, and I felt he did a lot more than most despite perhaps having less natural talent than many. He made himself a great player by force of will.

      Was always a pleasure watching that classic Dogs group fly through the centre of the ground – Smith off half back to West in the middle to Grant leading into the pocket. Their game against the unbeaten Bombers in 2000 was one of the all-time best.

    • June 10th 2013 @ 11:19pm
      robert maher said | June 10th 2013 @ 11:19pm | ! Report

      Sometimes hard to cut a club legend but I agreed with Rockets call at the time, his body was shot. One of my favourites, I was there the destroyed the bombers and I am pretty sure although I was young watching him kick 5 or 6 at Princess Park against either Melbourne or Fitzroy.

      Brad Johnson, do you think Scott could coach our reserves team (WB) next year?

    • October 7th 2013 @ 10:38am
      Frank said | October 7th 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      Great write up. Question for you. So how can someone like Scott never be mentioned in coaching circles at the moment given he has done the hard yards in AFL and recent times senior coach of Werribee?! I have seen what he brings game day for two years and there is no way former players in the media or even recent retirees can offer his experience and knowledge. I do not understand.

      Cheers,
      Frank

    • October 7th 2013 @ 10:56am
      Frank said | October 7th 2013 @ 10:56am | ! Report

      I like this write up. So here’s a question for you Brad. How can someone of Westy’s football pedigree not be spoken of as a coaching option in the media at the moment?! I’m not sure I understand how the selection process works here, but here is a champion of the game, (a word used way to easily for many), who has been in both the AFL coaching fraternity and in recent years senior coach of his own team in Werribee. This team is an aligned side, (and that alignment is halved with North Ballarat), so really 2/3 of his team is standalone Werribee, to two Preliminary Finals to eventual VFL premiers in both years? I have seen how he interacts in the coal face with young and old players alike. I’m not sure I understand how a recent retiree or former players who have chosen to work in the media, have more experience or knowledge of the game than someone like Scott. It amazes me to be honest. I would love your thoughts. Cheers Frank.

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