Playing with the Field
The Story of Scott Field
BY MERV KEANE
Listen to Merv Keane read an excerpt from his debut book, Playing with the Field: The Story of Scott Field (2019) or read an excerpt below.
Scott Field as told by Darryl Smith, Champion #32 Sturt Football Club
Scott Field came into Darryl Smith’s life during the 1982 Football Season. The Sturt Football club had asked Darryl to take on responsibility for coaching the Under 13 Special Squad. Similar squads for Under 14 and Under 15 age groups were made up of the very best players residing in the Sturt zone. Programs were designed to teach players the "Sturt way"—in the hopes of developing and fast-tracking them through the grades to ultimately reach league level. Scott Field was one of these players.
The squads focused on skill-based activities, and drills were implemented to improve technique and efficiency. This was where Scott excelled. He learned very quickly to ask questions about the desired method.
Inaugural Adelaide Crows coach and SANFL premiership player and coach at Glenelg (Adelaide Advertiser, 14/04/19)
'Amid all the turmoil at the Crows, former Sturt coach Merv Keane was in town on Thursday to launch a book, his first, Playing With the Field.'
"Mr Smith, why are you asking me to take the ball in the hands when my coach at Hahndorf says to take it on the body?” To which Darryl answered, “If you wait for the ball to come to your body, it gives the opposition a chance to spoil it.”
Following a quick demonstration, young Scott walked away and started to take the ball in his hands. The next exercise was a basic handball drill; again Scott asked his coach a question.
“Mr Smith, my Hahndorf coach tells me I should aim the handball at the top of the shorts, and you say to aim it up around the eyes. Why?" A simple explanation was offered to the young player. “If you have to look down to take the ball, you are taking your eyes off the play. If you take it higher, your peripheral vision will help you because you can see what else is going on."
Scott absorbed the advice in a heartbeat. He understood that being coached by a senior player at Sturt who had reached the highest level could impact and advance him more than a local dad coaching him at his home town club.
Other players who had passed through these programs were Peter Motley, Carl Dilena, Brett Lienert, Robert Veale, Chris Horwood, Andrew Underwood, Kym and Scott Russell, and Todd and Jay Viney—all very good players for Sturt.
Scott’s Special Squad path began with Bruce Lennon, David Welsby and Nigel Grivell—the next wave of future potential league players. One of Darryl’s earliest memories of Scott was that he was very small in stature—tiny, in fact. In the try-outs, Scott played first rover. He may have been under-sized but he displayed an ability to play like he belonged. He was all heart—tough, skilful, balanced, determined and had natural leadership qualities.
Scott during his playing days for the Sturt Football Club
During the next two years Darryl observed him grow and develop into a prodigious talent, as well as a fine young man. Their paths would cross again when Scott came out for pre-season training to commence his journey to the senior league team. In this era, the club had so many young players coming though—many of whom started their development in the Special Squads. Reynolds, Kitschke, Underwood, Welsby, Lennon, McGowan, Dilena, Richter, the Russell brothers and many more. Plus there was Schache, McWilliam and Popplestone from interstate.
Scott Field was another of this elite band of budding footballers, and what an influence he was! His fierceness and determination was as good as any player; still small in stature but now strong, and ferocious in his attack on the ball and the body, which helped to define Scott, the player.
As Scott’s career gained momentum, Darryl saw him in another light. He could work a room better than anyone. He was a born leader well beyond his age; brilliant at garnering support and passionately enunciating his views. He could bring people with him. He thrived on being the ”go-to” person.
[Darryl Smith - Player at Sturt Football Club, 1978-1988; Special Squads Coach 1976-1984]
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