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Where Are They Now? Kym Koster

Katrina Gill  June 19, 2013 2:46 PM

The Grand left foot of Koster Check out Kym Koster's spearing left-foot kick to Darren Jarman in the 1997 AFL Grand Final.
AFL 1998 Round 4 - Adelaide v Port Adelaide

Kym Koster of the Crows in the team huddle during the 1998 round 4 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the Port Adelaide Power at Football Park.

I thought, it’s worth a shot, $10,000 would help pay for the wedding.

A new regular feature in 2013, Where are they now? shines the spotlight on a former Crows star.

In this instalment, we profile dual-premiership player, cover model, 'inventor' and vibrant character, Kym Koster ...

Recruited from South Adelaide, Koster was drafted to the Western Bulldogs (Footscray) with pick No.17 in the 1992 AFL National Draft, but didn’t head over to Victoria straight away …

“I played most of my footy in the country, down south at Yankalilla and I was lucky enough to be drafted to the Bulldogs. Adelaide was coming into the AFL competition. In 1991, there was moratorium on South Australian players – they couldn’t be drafted by any club other than Adelaide. A lot of my mates got picked up by the Crows and I didn’t, and at the time I thought it sucked.

“On the advice of numerous people, I didn’t go over to Melbourne as an 18-year-old and continued to play at South. But I went over in 1994 and played a couple of years at the Bulldogs. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great footy club and we played finals in both my years there.”

Koster played 38 games in two seasons at the Bulldogs before seeking a trade home to Adelaide. The midfielder was traded in exchanged for pick No.9 in the draft. He was one of four players traded to the Crows at the end of the 1995, joining Darren Jarman (Hawthorn), Troy Bond (Carlton) and Peter Caven (Sydney) at West Lakes. The quartet went on to become premiership players with Adelaide, along with Matthew Robran (Hawthorn), Brett James (Collingwood), Shane Ellen (Footscray), Mark Stevens (North Melbourne), Clay Sampson (Melbourne) and Aaron Keating (Port Adelaide), who all started their careers at other clubs. But Koster continued a remarkable association with the Bulldogs throughout his playing days …

“Coming back to Adelaide, I did my knee in the first season (1996), ironically, I did it playing against the Bulldogs. But I was lucky enough to play in the 1997 and 1998 premierships. When we won the ‘97’ flag, it was a bit surreal.

“Beating the Bulldogs by two points the week prior was totally amazing. I probably think about that prelim more than the actual Grand Final because it was such a remarkable game. I played with Shane Ellen at the Bulldogs too. We still catch up a bit and when we do we speak about those two Preliminary Finals.

“The first one in ‘97’ was truly amazing. The Bulldogs players were celebrating at half-time. They were talking about getting (premiership) tattoos and then you see Tony Liberatore celebrating like they’d won when he’d supposedly kicked that goal. I personally thought it was a goal at the time too … I was right behind him when he kicked it.

“Even though you might still have friends there, there’s nothing better than beating your old club. There were players at the Dogs, who were disappointed I’d left. Tony Liberatore was a great bloke to play with and a great bloke in general. But I think he took me, and other players, leaving his club pretty personally. When we played the Dogs in a trial game and a few other in-season games, he used to try to give me a few beltings underneath packs.

“I’ve spoken to a couple of my former Bulldogs teammates since, and it’s just jealously. They see you with a Crows premiership tattoo and they feel jealous because it could’ve been them.

“It’s just how lucky you are in life sometimes.”

The MCG on Grand Final day in ‘97’ was memorable for Koster, not only because of the result but for his laser left-foot kick that hit Darren Jarman – who he rates alongside Tony Modra as the best player he played with – on the chest inside 50m at a crucial stage in the last quarter against St Kilda …

“That pass is talked about a little bit. I’ve seen (former Crows assistant coach) Darel Hart a bit recently because my young lad Josh is training with the SA Under-16 team. Harty’s comment was, ‘As soon as you made that pass, I knew the game was all over’ because he always said I couldn’t kick on my left foot.

“My come back is that I never had to kick on my left foot because I was fast enough to get onto my right …”

A goal Koster kicked two weeks prior, in the Semi-Final against Geelong, also makes the highlights reel. He found the middle of the big sticks despite having his shorts pulled halfway down …

“People ask about your career highlights and favourite memories and I do remember that moment. I’m extremely glad I wore Speedos and had them done up tightly because I would’ve been extremely embarrassed … not that anyone would’ve seen anything!’

Koster won two premierships with Adelaide wearing guernsey No.5 after switching from the No.9 because he thought it was a bad omen …

“I’m a little bit superstitious. I did my knee in ‘96’ wearing the No.9 and a couple of guys, who wore the No.9 before me, Bruce Lindner and Tony Hall (for Hawthorn) did their knees. I was the third, so I decided to get rid of it.

“Chris McDermott left the Club at the end of ‘96’. I asked if I could take the No.10 because I’d worn it as a little kid and couldn’t get the No.5, which was my dad’s number, because Matty Robran had it. I spoke to Robsy and asked, ‘Mate, any chance you want to swap?’ Robsy’s father, Barrie, wore the No.10, so he was pretty happy to swap.

“Tyson Edwards took the No.9 the next year. About three weeks into the ‘97’ season, Tyson went down holding his knee. I thought ‘Oh, no’, but it was just a medial strain and he went on to play more than 300 games with hardly any injuries, so the superstition is gone.”

Koster’s career came to an end at the completion of the 2000 season, after 95 games, “I would’ve liked to have played longer, but Gary Ayres didn’t like me much,” he says with a laugh. And play on he did. He returned to captain South Adelaide in 2001, and then moved to Glenelg for two seasons – his second as captain. After hanging up the boots at SANFL level, Koster played for Colonel Light Gardens in Division Seven of the Amateur League. He then took a year off playing to coach Sacred Heart Old Collegians (Division Two) before heading back to Yankalilla …

“I went and played a couple of years with my younger brother, Dwayne. One of my idols was Greg Whittlesea, who captained Sturt and won a Magarey Medal. He was from Yankalilla and was the coach there at the time. He used to ring me every year and ask if I was coming back to play. In the end, I said I would. We were unsuccessful in terms of winning a premiership, but it was great fun to go back, give something back to Yankalilla and play alongside my brother.

“After that, I finally pulled the pin … I think I was 36-years-old by then. In the four years since, I’ve played two games of footy with Pinnaroo. My wife’s sister lives there with her husband. I played three weeks ago with my brother-in-law in a reserves game because it was his 250th.

“When I watch, I think, ‘I want to play’ but I think that’ll be my fix for the next couple of years. I pulled up extremely sore. I’m of the understanding I have no cruciate ligament in my (reconstructed) left knee. I play with a knee brace. If I wear the brace, my knee stays together but without it I don’t know if it would. My body is starting to suggest enough is enough.”

Koster has also been busy away from the football field since leaving the AFL system. He runs a corporate and commercial cleaning business, Alchemy Cleaning Services, and has also worked in sales. He has an i Phone App called ‘Stats Amazing’, which allows kids to keep track of their stats in school and club sport. He also has a “few other things” in the pipeline …

“I’ve had quite a few jobs. Sometimes, you need to have a lot before you find out what you really want to do. I’m currently in the process of setting up an IT program with a mate. I don’t have a technological background at all – I’m just a dreamer. I have hundreds of dreams and ideas.

“If you ask Peter Caven, he’ll tell you I’m an inventor. I’ve actually got a few things I’ve tried to invent. They’re still on the drawing board, but they do work. It’s just getting finance for them to go to the next phase.”

Undoubtedly, the highlight of Koster’s post-footy career (and maybe including his footy career according to a few of his former teammates) was winning Men’s Health Magazine Man of the Year in 2010. He was featured on the front cover in peak physical condition …

“I like the magazine and I saw they were giving away $10,000 for the winner. I thought, ‘what have I got to lose?’ I went a little bit wayward there for a while, eating and drinking too much and I put on a fair bit of weight. I had met my new partner, Sarah, in that time and we were planning on getting married. I thought, ‘it’s worth a shot, $10,000 would help pay for the wedding’.

“I worked extremely hard for four months. I gave up alcohol and my diet was impeccable. I did 1,000-plus sit-ups a day and, maybe, about 100 push-ups. I did about 25 minutes of weights (each session) and they weren’t heavy, I find weights boring. I didn’t run more than 3kms at a time. I ran that 3-4 times a week but it was mainly my diet. Not one bad bit of food went into my mouth. I was eating a lot of protein-based foods and I was probably fitter than I’d been in my whole life and that includes my AFL career.

“I was fortunate to be on the cover as the winner. I got the $10k and an amazing watch, so it was all worth it. It paid for part of the wedding. I often look at that cover photo and it depresses me because I’m certainly not looking like that now.”

It’s unlikely he’ll have time to hit the gym hard again anytime soon, with his fourth child due in the coming month …

“I have three boys. Josh (15), William (12) and Jed who will be two in a few weeks. I have another baby due in the next few weeks too. We don’t know whether we’re having a boy or a girl and we don’t really mind as long as it’s healthy.”

Unfortunately, none of Koster’s three boys qualify for Father-Son status – he falls five games short of the 100 games required …

“Josh is part of the state Under-16 squad at the moment. He’s a different player to me. He’s an outside, running player and I was probably more inside. He goes pretty well. He loves his footy. He’s playing at Glenelg. Josh actually barracks for Carlton because he idolises Chris Judd. He used to be a West Coast supporter, but switched to Carlton when Chris Judd was traded. William is a Crows fan though and they both like to come along and have a look at the games when time and school sports permit.”

Koster recently joined Adelaide’s Past Player and Official committee. He hopes the group can play a part in welcoming back each of the Club’s past players, regardless of the circumstances in which they left or how many games they played …

“Yes, some blokes get delisted earlier than they would like and, personally, I was one of those. I was disappointed in the early days – I was disappointed at the Club for letting me go, but also at myself for underachieving. You have to accept some responsibility if you’re not performing, but everyone handles it differently and there are others who don’t like to accept any blame or responsibility.

“Football is a big part of your life when you’re with a Club whether it’s two years, five years or 20 years. You live and breathe it. It’s quite difficult when you leave that environment. Some of the players, who leave, might not miss the football but they miss the camaraderie and mateship.

“Hopefully, we’ll make all the guys who have played for the footy club come back and say, ‘You know what? It’s what happens in life, not just in football’.”