THEY’RE not the Redanies of old, they’re not overly strong, but they certainly are bold.
Meet Redan’s secret weapons for the 2013 finals series, Hayden Riley and Cam McKenzie.
Both still in high school, both aged just 18, both an integral part of the Lions’ 2013 Ballarat Football League premiership aspirations.
With typical young bodies that do not lend themselves to the mould of the traditional powerhouse footballer, opposition coaches and players could be excused for not paying a great deal of attention to the budding duo.
But if that is the case, they do so at their own peril.
One only has to look at the Lions’ utter domination of minor premiers North Ballarat City last week and the vital roles the pair played in that game to know they are certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Not that you will hear them admit it.
Riley, a year 12 student at Mt Clear College, has been a walk-up selection for most of the season, having played the first three matches in the under-18.5s
McKenzie, a year 12 boarder at Ballarat Clarendon College originally from Mildura, has been somewhat of a late season revelation.
He played his first game against East Point in July but had to wait almost another month to get another spot in the senior line-up.
And when that chance came, he certainly grabbed it with both hands.
A more than solid game in the draw with Sunbury three weeks ago, a breakout game performance in the last home-and-away game against Melton before a stirring effort against North City last week.
McKenzie looks at home in the senior side, in what was been somewhat of a whirlwind few weeks.
It was not long ago he was training with the North Ballarat Rebels, admitting he actually did not even know many players in the senior side.
“I didn’t train with the seniors so I didn’t really know anyone at all so that was the first big step, getting to know everyone,” McKenzie said.
“The older boys helped out a lot and really made you feel a part of it.
“There were definitely a few nerves especially in the final, but at the same time you really want to get out there and do what you’re told to do.”
For Riley, a dashing half-back with speed to burn, the strong history of Redan is certainly not lost on him.
He has been playing in the maroon and gold for a number of years and recalls watching grand final after grand final in awe.
“I’ve been around the club for a while now watching the old blokes like Jezza (Jarrod Edwards) and Fieldy (Julian Field) so you get to know what it’s all about,” he said.
“I’ve seen the seniors win a few flags and it’s great to be a part of it now.”
The duo are hardly going to intimidate their opponents with their size, but on a dry Eastern Oval deck in September, they can easily tear the game away from their opponents with electric speed.
“I’m not very big and Cam’s not very big so we’ve got to use our speed and skills, that’s the role we’re told to play,” Riley said.
Both have felt premiership elation as part of last year’s under-18.5 Redan premiership side, but know a repeat performance in the senior side this year would be on a whole new level.
“I’ve experienced a grand final loss and know the devastation that comes with that so I suppose that motivates you even more to do well,” McKenzie said.
If Redan is able to expand its already bulging trophy cabinet with a flag this year, this duo will have taken a major step towards becoming part of the ‘Redanies of old’.