Veteran Lion on long road to milestone

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser

It has been a long road for Trevor Craig to reach the most respected club milestone of 150 games and life membership at the Royals Football Club.

The popular clubman spent six seasons away from the club living in the north of the State and stranded on 141 games before returning to Albany last season.

But even becoming a league footballer was a milestone the former captain and five-time premiership player thought he would never reach when he failed to see eye-to-eye with former coach Darrell Panizza.

Speaking fondly yesterday of the verbal altercation with his former mentor, who questioned his attitude at training in 1999, Craig said he had learnt a valuable football lesson from the day which stood him in good stead for future success.

“I had to work hard to get a league game,” he said. “I was never the prettiest footballer but I could get my hands on it.

“It’s relief, really, getting there.

“When we left we had planned on not coming back so it was the only regret I had in footy.

“When we made the decision to come back it was high on the agenda.”

Only a handful of players from the Lions’ 2009 premiership when Craig captained the Lions will run out onto Centennial Stadium with him on Saturday when they take on co-tenants Albany.

Affectionately known as “Whizz”, the now 36-year-old veteran carved a reputation from his fearless attack on the football in a team of premiership stars in the early 2000s when the Lions won an unprecedented six straight league premierships from 1999-2004.

“That era really taught me a lot about football in terms of what to expect and how to be successful,” he said. “In my 10 seasons at Royals I only missed one grand final and I think we are actually on the cusp again.”

Craig said he was fortunate to play in a golden era for the club and rated the team’s 2009 flag as captain as a true highlight and Kleemann medallists Scott Hillman, Brett Hall, Jono Woods and Russell Williams as his toughest opponents.

Lions coach James McRae said Craig was one of the most respected players at the club.

“He wouldn’t mind my saying he was never the most talented footballer, but he’s the heart and soul and is a great clubman,” he said.

“He’s back leading by example and he is the one bloke who deserves every accolade which comes his way.”

In other round 6 matches, North Albany host cross-town rivals Railways and Mt Barker host Denmark-Walpole.

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