Stewart Sutherland prepares for 250th senior game

by Ben Martin

Otway Districts remain hopeful that one of their all-time greats plays on past this season as he prepares for his 250th senior game in the blue and red.

Former coach and captain Stewart Sutherland will notch up the major milestone when the Dees host Apollo Bay at Gellibrand tomorrow.

Sutherland balances football with a young family with his wife Emma who coaches the Demons’ A Grade netball side, and a busy workload on the family’s dairy farm.

But Otway president Ross Panther said Sutherland, who turns 37 in August, still found a way to produce on the field.

“I (hope he plays on),” he said.

“At the start of the year he was saying this year could be his last, but if the club’s heading in the right direction, with a few wins on the board, and if he’s still playing good footy I think he’d be silly to give it away.

“He’s not the sort of bloke who worries about how sore he’s going to be the next day, he goes in harder than a 22-year-old.

“For him to put his body on the line knowing he’s going to wake up sore the next day, with two kids jumping on him, it’s pretty impressive.”

Panther made special mention of Sutherland’s loyalty.

The hard-at-it onballer started his career with Otway in the Heytesbury league where he was part of the club’s under-17 premiership side in 2000 having just turned 14, before being part of the Demons’ senior finals teams of the early 2000s.

Sutherland, who has two sons Rex, 4, and Flynn, 2, with wife Emma, had stints with Queensland club Burleigh and the Colac Tigers, but the majority of his career has been at Gellibrand, just a short walk from home.

“He’s one of the last ‘locals’ that actually lives in Gellibrand,” Panther said.

“He loves the club, even those couple of years he was at Colac he’d still come out to Otway on a Saturday night.

“He’s certainly one that would have been chased by clubs over the years.

“To stick by the club, the majority of time knowing there may not have been success that year, is a credit to him.

“He’s coached for a while, captained, he’s four-time best-and-fairest winner, so he’s got all the accolades.”

Panther said he was excited to see the Sutherland name continue at the club in years to come.

“Emma’s now part of the club, Rex had a run in the Mini Dees half-time game last week… I don’t know if he was meant to be out there but he was,” he laughed.

“But we’re looking forward to having the Sutherland names on team sheets for years to come.”

Tomorrow will be a big day of milestones at Gellibrand, with fellow Demon Corey Ferrari, 39, set to notch up his 250th club game.

“You know what you’re going to get from Corey,” Panther said.

“He’s gone back to coaching the reserves where he’s been in the best couple of players most games, he got called up to the seniors recently just because you know what you’re going to get; he’s a good user of the ball,” he said.

“I think he was laying a few hints (to selectors) that his form had been pretty good.”