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  1. #1
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    Interview With Simon Atkins

    Simon Atkins
    Western Bulldogs – 1987-1994, 127 games & 76 goals
    Fitzroy – 1995-1996, 41 games & 13 goals




    TCD: G’day Axe & thanks for your time.

    SA: You’re welcome.

    Where did you grow up?

    I was born in Launceston & moved to Wynyard on Tasmania's north west coast when I was little.

    Did you play for Wynyard?

    Yes, played all my junior football for the Wynyard cats.

    Did they wear Geelong colours?

    Now they do, but when I played we wore Carlton type jumpers.

    Who did you barrack for as a kid?

    North Melbourne.

    So, how did Footscray come to hear of you?

    When I was 16 years old I was selected to play for Tasmania under Gary Davidson. I had been playing seniors for a few seasons at Wynyard.

    In my last season there, our coach was David Thorpe. He had Garry Merrington & Stephen Nash come over to watch myself & my brother Paul a few times.


    We signed form fours tieing us to Footscray. Paul was keener than I was to come across & he came here prior to Christmas in 1986 & I joined him in January 1987.

    Did you always wear long sleeves as a kid?

    Yes. As some of the guys got older they cut the arms off. I never bothered.

    It didn’t take too long for you to make your debut then.

    No, it was round 2, 1987 against Sydney at the SCG.

    How did things pan out?

    Bloody shocking to be honest. We got thumped by 108 points & it was around the time they played this silly song every time Sydney kicked a goal. I can still vividly remember it.

    There was a positive I suppose. I played in the forward line & was able to get a close up view for 2 quarters of the Swanettes!

    I only got 4 kicks & kicked 2 goals 2. I missed both set shots. My first kick in AFL football was a goal. Lally Bamblett gave me a handball over the top. I ran into an open goal from about 30 metres out. The ball hit my knee on the way down, ricocheted onto my boot & wobbled through for a goal.

    The other thing I remember is Mick Malthouse ripping into me at half time & I was so stunned I started the second half with my boots undone.


    Didn’t get much better the next game either.

    No, we played Carlton & they were up & running. I don’t remember too much about the game to be honest. What I do remember is playing on Tom Alvin & all he did all day was run & run & run. I tried to keep up but he left me for dead.

    Any truth in the rumours that you & your identical twin brother Paul used to change places & attend meetings as each other.

    It only happened the once. Paul asked me what the senior team meetings were like. I said ‘Why don’t you go? Just tell me what goes on.’

    Did you & Paul also get a favour from Ted Whitten?

    Yes, E.J. worked at Adidas & he got us the biggest tracksuit he could find. We had a players review to raise funds for the end of season trip. Paul hopped into one half of the tracksuit & I hopped into the other. We went as a 2 headed Tasmanian.

    Who were your coaches?

    · Mick Malthouse – He was a hard coach, but at the time the group needed that. Some of his Tuesday night sessions were long. He demanded a strong work ethic & was happy to close the game down & play it on his terms, restricting the opposition.
    · Terry Wheeler – I got quite a fair bit out of Wheels. He was way ahead of his time with his thinking. He was great with his tactics & often knew when to let the players have a degree of control on match day.
    · Alan Joyce – Obviously he didn’t have the talent at his disposal with the Bulldogs that he enjoyed at Hawthorn. Preferred to do things his way & have everyone toe the line.
    · Bernie Quinlan – Got the best out of what he had, which wasn’t much. You always tried to avoid being in Bernie’s group in one on one’s. He’d kick it 70 metres away, whereas the assistant coaches might make 40 metres.
    · Michael Nunan – Hard to gauge as he was only there for part of the season. He was a Managing Director of a company that manufactured heart rate monitors & I’m sure we were used as guinea pigs in some way. At training he’d regularly run us for an hour & a half through the hills & scrub around Bulleen. We’d often run 15-18 kms a session.


    So, why did you leave the Bulldogs?

    Joycey felt I was only a one-position player & decided to delist me.

    So how did you end up with Fitzroy?

    Thank Hawk for that. I had been training for 3 months with Collingwood, who were all set to pick me up via the PSD. Anyhow a day before the draft Leigh Matthews & Gubby Allen were walking towards me. When they saw me they separated & went different ways. I thought to myself, this doesn’t look good.

    As it turns out, a week before the PSD Collingwwod did some testing with Dermott Brereton & had decided to go with him.

    Do you recall your first game at Fitzroy?

    Yeah, we hadn’t scored up to half time against Essendon. As we were coming off the ground Hawk came up to me & said, ‘first time I’ve ever seen the scoreboard break down’. I said to him, ‘it’s not broken you idiot, we haven’t scored!’

    Who were some of the better players at your time with the Bulldogs?

    · Doug Hawkins – When I came across from Tasmania I only knew 2 things about Footscray; they wore red, white & blue & Doug Hawkins played for them. It was amazing some of the things Doug could do, just fantastic skills & he’d at training all the time.
    · Chris Grant – I reckon if he’d played CHF for his entire career he could have been as good as Wayne Carey. His athleticism & agility.
    · Scott Wynd – I got to see him up close playing in the midfield. Don’t take this the wrong way, but he was a big bloke with a midfielder’s brain. An outstanding ruckman.
    · Tony Liberatore – Just had a super competitive nature & wanted to win at all costs.
    · Rick Kennedy – My first captain. One of the nicest blokes you’d ever meet off the ground, but once he crossed the white line he developed a killer instinct. Played against some of the best full forwards going around too.


    What about the opposition?

    · Tony Shaw – I loved the battles with Shawy & that’s what they were, battles. Like Libba he had a super competitive nature. I remember one game he said to me, ‘You should have got a haircut’. I asked why & he said, ‘because when I’ve finished you have no hair left, I’ll pull it all out’. Anyhow the umpire bounced the ball & sure enough; tug. He kept it going all day & was getting away with it. I finally got a chance to square up. He’s waiting under one to mark on his chest & I let a huge swinging right go & walloped him right across the chest. His eyes rolled before he hit the deck & he couldn’t breath. Scotty Wynd came over, looked down & said, ‘Axe, I think you might have killed him’. I said, ‘I think I might have’. Shawy said to me a little later, I think I deserved that’.
    · Geelong’s midfield – We had some fantastic duels & whoever won the midfield usually won the game. Libba usually went to Buddha Hocking. I ended up with Steven Hocking or Paul Couch, even though Geelong tried to get me to go with Mark Bairstow.
    · Greg Williams – He could just get the footy & once he got it he used it so well, either hand or foot.
    · Gary Ablett & Jason Dunstall – They were just good to watch.


    What have you done since retirement?

    I went home to Tassie but Donald McDonald kept ringing me, so I came back to Victoria to play for Werribee where I was also an assistant coach. I also coached the reserves at Werribee under Chris Bond & spent a year as an assistant under Paul Spargo at Coburg.

    I also had a couple of stints as the match day runner under Peter Rohde & Plough. I found that by listening to what the coach’s instructions were I was able to learn from them.

    Did you always want to coach?

    No, when I played I always said I’d never coach, but I love it. I really enjoy the tactics & match day challenges. I know there’s no security in coaching but I really do love it.

    Harbour further aspirations?

    You never say never to anything, but if the right offer came up as an assistant at an AFL club, then sure.

    Still follow the Doggies progress?

    Not as passionately as perhaps I should, but yes. The club gave me 8 years & from time to time I’ll get on the train & go watch the boys. It’s had with coaching, you don’t always get the time.

    Married/kids?

    No, been with my partner for about 10 years now, everyone says we should get married.

    Thanks for your time Simon.

    You're welcome.

  2. #2
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    Re: Interview With Simon Atkins

    I still have visions of him drinking on the hill at Werribee's home games with his mates then the following year he was made coach which I thought at the time did not seem right.

    TCD, I thought you would ask him about the time his Mrs who was a policewoman threw his clothes out onto the road after a long Mad Monday. It even made the sports news that night!
    Then there were those rumours which its best I not go into...............

  3. #3
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    Re: Interview With Simon Atkins

    Quote Originally Posted by Desipura View Post
    TCD, I thought you would ask him about the time his Mrs who was a policewoman threw his clothes out onto the road after a long Mad Monday. It even made the sports news that night!
    Then there were those rumours which its best I not go into...............
    I did, don't worry, but it just didn't fit.

    Anyhow he was in the Albert Hotel in Footscray with Bernard Toohey when he thought he saw his golf clubs. Toohey assured him he'd drunk too much. Axe said her actions were understandable as he hadn't been home for 4 days!

  4. #4
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    Re: Interview With Simon Atkins

    Quote Originally Posted by The Coon Dog View Post
    I did, don't worry, but it just didn't fit.

    Anyhow he was in the Albert Hotel in Footscray with Bernard Toohey when he thought he saw his golf clubs. Toohey assured him he'd drunk too much. Axe said her actions were understandable as he hadn't been home for 4 days!
    That was Mad Monday after the prelim loss in '92 so it was also Brownlow night. Axe took his Mum as his date because his wife wouldn't go!




    · Geelong’s midfield – We had some fantastic duels & whoever won the midfield usually won the game. Libba usually went to Buddha Hocking. I ended up with Steven Hocking or Paul Couch, even though Geelong tried to get me to go with Mark Bairstow.

    By '94 Axe had been struggling. In the final v Geelong (the Billy, you're king of Geelong! game) I think Ablett had 5 by 1/4 time and we were in big trouble. The move that got us back in the game was Axe to Bairstow.

    The first stoppage after Axe came on was a boundry throw in, right in front of the members. Axe gave him the best elbow that stopped Bairstow and was clearly the turning point. Axe went on to play his best game for the year and we came back at them and came so close.

  5. #5
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    Re: Interview With Simon Atkins

    Quote Originally Posted by The Coon Dog View Post
    Yeah, we hadn’t scored up to half time against Essendon. As we were coming off the ground Hawk came up to me & said, ‘first time I’ve ever seen the scoreboard break down’. I said to him, ‘it’s not broken you idiot, we haven’t scored!’
    ohh god i was just in the middle of reading that at work when a call dropped through and couldnt stop laughing, had to put customer on hold to compose myself for a min lmao
    My life is a very complicated drinking game.

  6. #6
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    Re: Interview With Simon Atkins

    Good stuff TCD

    Thanks
    Marching as one

  7. #7
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    Re: Interview With Simon Atkins

    Very skilled player was Axe, but no pace whatsoever. Played some great games for the club but I was always critical that he was too easily tagged out of the game...didn't seem to offer a lot of resistance.

    My moct vivid recollection was the day I journeyed down to Geelong to see us get absolutely slaughtered. Atkins had a shocker but was never benched at any stage. I remember a number of bulldogs supporters leaving the ground that day openly bagging Atkins and declaring him Terry Wheelers love child. Terry had fallen out of favour with many supporters by that stage and he ended up being sacked the next week or the one after.

    Alan Joyce was the worst coach ever to have won a premiership but he was right. Simon Atkins was a one-position player. Even back then you couldn't afford that lack of flexibility.

  8. #8
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    Re: Interview With Simon Atkins

    Listen here from SEN


    Also his story here
    Last edited by bornadog; 19-05-2016 at 03:15 PM.
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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