IF one player epitomises Redan’s new breed of young Lion it is Tom Lamb.
Confident, competitive and not adverse to having a good time. Not to mention, a bit shaggy too.
This year Lamb, known by teammates as “Chops”, has gone from a player on the edge of the seniors to a Redan regular. So dramatic has been his rise, he is a chance to be part of the Ballarat Football League team of the year.
It was a break-out performance in last year’s second semi final victory over Sunday that was the catalyst for that rise.
As Redan prepares for yet another September match, this time a semi final against North Ballarat City at Eastern Oval on Sunday, Lamb admits he was lucky to even play in that match last year.
“I wasn’t in the side (originally). I’d even had a few beers at the pub on the Friday,” Lamb says. “Then ‘Peacy’ (coach Brendan Peace) rang me. He told me he couldn’t play because of a hamstring, and asked if I could play.
“I don’t know why I had a great game that day. Maybe because I just rocked up. It was a nice day and that helped.”
On that afternoon Lamb earned himself a place in the grand final and, ultimately a premiership medallion.
“After that day I liked my chances (of playing in the grand final). I certainly thought I’d be more likely to get a game after that than last time I’d played,” he said.
Part of Lamb’s ongoing improvement this season has been a shift to the backline. Settling into a position combined with a bit more experience and an injury-free run at it has Lamb feeling more and more at home as a Lion.
“I started as a midfielder or half-back flanker in juniors,” he says. “When I came into the seniors in 2009 I think they were hoping I’d become a forward.
“In round one this year, they started playing me back. I reckon it’s easier to get a cheap kick and that builds your confidence.
“After stringing a few senior games together I feel more of a senior player. It’s better but you also ride the emotions a bit more. You’re more disappointed when you lose. I think being a regular senior player you concentrate less whether you get a game yourself and more on the team things.”
Lamb has been a Redan player since under-12s. He says the club has always had “a lot of quality blokes, leadership and great coaches”, which has been instrumental in the club’s success.
Upon becoming a senior-age player he has been inducted into the social side of the Redan Football Netball Club, which is almost as famous as the club’s on field success.
“The social side is awesome. We’re going great guns, but it’s awesome off the field as well,” he says.
“Dean Matthews, Jarratt Giampaolo and Matt Caris are among my close mates at the club. I suppose these are blokes that love a beer as much as me.
“I don’t think you have to give up that side of things. If you are always around the social scene with these guys, I think you play together better. It’s different I reckon than at some clubs where some guys come to play footy and then just go.”
While admitting Redan does know how to have a good end of season trip, Lamb is a bit coy on the details.
Away from footy he is a third year apprentice builder with Marty Tuddenham.
Then there is that trademark shagpile of hair. Lamb says that’s nothing to do with footy either.
“My head got shaved bald by some mates a few years ago. It looked hideous and I didn’t pick up for a while,” he confesses.
“So it’s not anything to do with football. I actually cop a lot of flak for it from the opposition but I have no desire to cut it short any time soon.”
In the meantime, it’s still time to play hard, starting with North City on Sunday. The social side can wait.
“We’re still confident but I think we have to improve a lot to beat North City, East Point or Sunbury based on last weekend,” Lamb says.