Sport

Love job for the love of his club

By Patrick Tansey

In an era when country footballers and coaches can be paid exorbitant amounts of money, it is incredible to think Strathmerton coach Tim Bramich does the job for free.

On Saturday, the humble coach who has spent his entire football life at the Bulldogs became the milestone man, his name etched into Strathmerton’s history books at least for the near future.

Against Deniliquin Rovers, Bramich, 35, took charge of the Bulldogs for the 150th time as senior coach, claiming a club record.

It is a feat not to be sneezed at, particularly in modern footy where players and coaches tend to move with regularity.

Loyal by nature, Bramich simply loves his club.

‘‘They’ve always tried to reimburse me and I think they give me a membership for free every year, but that’s part of the culture I try and drive, I guess,’’ Bramich said.

‘‘And really, if I wasn’t coaching I’d probably be playing for nothing anyway, so I don’t see why I should have taken money at the same time.’’

It is obvious the selfless culture that Bramich drives has hit home with his players since he began his tenure in 2011 in difficult circumstances.

The Bulldogs have been a model of consistency under Bramich’s leadership and played off in the past five grand finals in the former Picola District Football League north-west division.

While the Bulldogs only have one premiership (2015) to show for their sustained dominance, Bramich does not harbour too many regrets.

‘‘It was awesome in town after we won, but even after the ones we lost we’ve always had good support,’’ he said.

He graciously admits that in most of those years, Strathmerton did not deserve to win on the big day.

However, last year’s loss to Picola United haunts him, as he believes Strathmerton was the better side all day except for a 15-minute lapse that cost it the ultimate success.

Besides driving a strong culture, one of Bramich’s strongest assets as a coach is his ability to build a strong rapport with his playing group.

‘‘It can also be my biggest weakness as I do get very close with my players, but I’ve always been a pretty big believer in having culture and I think our culture is really strong and that’s why we don’t get that really big turnover of players,’’ he said.

‘‘When I first started eight years ago it was always about bringing mates in, and even when we bring someone in from outside the club there’s always a connection somewhere, so it’s always about having that mateship and connection.’’

This has been vindicated in the past five years with most of the club’s core group of players sticking with the Bulldogs.

While coaching can be a grind for some due to the time and effort that goes with the job, Bramich has embraced every minute of the role.

‘‘Coaching 150 games to me has been pretty easy. It’s kept me involved in footy, so whilst I wasn’t able to play, being able to coach has meant that I’ve had the best of both worlds,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve given my body a bit of a rest, but have also been involved with the club at a high level.’’

Of course, the other chapter to Bramich’s football story is his playing career.

At 18 he suffered his first ACL injury. At 21 he had to have a shoulder reconstruction, and when he returned from the shoulder, he did the ACL in his good knee.

He still managed to play 200 club games, despite the carnage to his body.

Bramich faces a different task this season, with a much younger group than last year and the challenge of playing against teams from the former south-east division of the Picola District league.

While a three-goal loss to top side Deniliquin last round was not part of the fairytale script, you would be a brave person to bet against the Bramich-led Strathmerton being there when the whips are cracking.